A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34–35)
This passage, along with the Great Commission, was part of Jesus’ parting instructions to His followers. It was the essence of what He came to teach. It is similar to the second part of the greatest commandment—that we love our neighbor as ourselves. God is love, and His disciples are to be so known for their love for one another that this has been called the badge of Christians.
People living outside the church see that love and they are drawn to Jesus. They want to get in on it. When we love, we let our light so shine before men that they see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:18).
Do you want to know how we are to love one another? Like Jesus loves us. Paul wrote, “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). And in Colossians 3:12–14, he wrote, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” There can be no greater love. I think the phrase “bear with one another” is important. When someone hurts us or offends, we are not to try to get even. We are to bear it in love. That’s what Christ would do. And we are to forgive, as Christ has forgiven us.
There is a fellowship in the church that is like no other. We love to be together, for when we are together, Christ is in our midst. The fellowship is a precious experience, especially when we pray together, for Christ always lives to make intercession for us (see Hebrews 7:25). I feel He is right there among us praying with us and loving us. That fellowship, love, and acceptance is the promise that comes from following this command.
One of the members of our Four Flats Quartet (which became Barbershop Harmony Champions of the Pacific Northwest), became a student at our Christian college right out of World War II, not because he wanted to be a Christian, but because he wanted to be with a girl who was attending there. For a long time he resisted the Christian gospel. When we sang in churches and an altar call was given, he said his knuckles got white because he was hanging on so tightly to the seat in front of him. One day, during spiritual emphasis week, I gave him a list of all the reasons I thought he should give his heart to Christ and asked him to turn the paper over and list the reasons he should not accept Christ. He fumbled with the paper for a while, then he said, “I guess there aren’t any.”
That night he practically dove to the altar and gave his heart to Jesus and later became an effective preacher of the gospel. I believe that was a situation where we virtually loved him to Christ. He couldn’t resist the love he saw in the believers on campus.
Lord, this command to love one another has to be so close to Your heart since it so closely reflects Your own nature and practice. Help me to love as You love. Pour Your love into my heart through Your Holy Spirit. Forgive me when I make excuses for not loving someone. Break through hard hearts that have resisted Your love, even as they have proclaimed Your name. Lord, please make the congregation I am a part of to become known as Your followers because of the depth of the love we have for one another.
–Adapted from Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life by Norval Hadley. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Using Psalm 145, praise the King whose greatness goes beyond your comprehension (145:1, 3). Give thanks for the opportunity to worship him. Confess any unwillingness or negligence in daily worship (145:2). Commit yourself to meditating on his works and proclaiming his great deeds daily (145:3-7). Ask God to lead you in worship that brings him joy.
Ask God to prompt the saints in your church to join in praising him for his grace, compassion, and patience (145:8-10). Pray that such praise will convince many to follow the Lord (145:11-13).