This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
What is it that keeps us from loving others as we should? As Christians, we should love everybody else in the faith. Right?
“I love him, but…
…bless his heart, he just has an attitude I can’t stand.”
…he just thinks he’s better than everybody else.”
…she has issues.”
“Bless her heart” or “bless his heart” has become an escape for saying whatever we want about others. It’s a way that we’ve learned to express love and at the same time get in our digs. In reality, all we’re really doing is expressing our failure to love as we should love. We also endeavor to let ourselves off the hook by prefacing our statements regarding others with expressions like:
“I don’t mean to gossip but…”
“I mean this in all Christian love but…”
Such statements are not expressions of love but declarations that reveal hearts seared with animosity, or jealousy, or arrogance. In reality, there is just something about that other Christian that you don’t like and you haven’t been able to get past it. A certain behavior or personality trait gets under your skin and you have allowed that to keep you from loving that person as you should. One more time, let’s revisit what it means to “love one another.”
In today’s focus scripture John exhorts the early church to recall “the message you heard from the beginning.” The most basic of basics in regard to Christian instruction has to do with loving others. Jesus was so concerned about love among His followers, He did more than just teach about it…He also prayed about it: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11)
Loving others demonstrates real gratitude for what God has done in your life.
By loving others you are expressing thanksgiving for God’s incredible gift of eternal life that was given out of His amazing love. “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)
Loving others is a direct command from the Lord.
Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Jesus modeled the love we are to have for each other and as I have pointed out in previous writings, love is a “must.” It is not just a suggestion. Love is a command. “Love one another as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:23)
Love for others must be real.
This mutual love is not to be shallow or superficial. It is to be genuine. “Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)
Loving others is to be our unique identity in this world.
In advertising, a popular word used to describe the work that goes into establishing an image for a business or product is “branding.” Jesus wanted His followers branded with the image of “love.” Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) Christianity should be shown for the attractiveness that it is and not the ugliness it sometimes becomes.
Loving others is proof of your salvation.
Not only does mutual love identify us as followers of Christ it is also evidence of salvation. “Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Loving others reveals the presence and reality of God.
Loving one another is part of our witness that enables non-Christians to see the reality of God. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
Loving others is a debt that must be paid.
Jesus instructed that we are to be debt free…with one exception: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” (Romans 13:8)
So often we allow trivial matters to get in the way of our love for one another. Personality clashes and differences of opinions between Christians are all too common. But we are to love one another as Jesus loved us. Surely, Jesus never prefaced his expression of love for us by saying, “Bless his heart but…” Jesus doesn’t allow our faults to destroy our relationship with Him. He stands ready to forgive us completely and His love is unconditional. That is the model by which we are to love others.
I cannot know just why He came to love me so;
He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.
When will we learn to look beyond the faults of others and see their needs? That’s the way Christ loves us. It is the way we should love others.
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Crippling Disease Called Hate
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.