Love One Another

In John 13:34, 35 we read these words of Jesus:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another;
as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another
."

That is the standard of Christianity and the dynamic of the revolution that was begun by Jesus Christ himself.

It seems as though some Christians have misread this verse.
They apparently see it saying, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples,
that you have no possessions
."
Or they see it saying, "… that you read and carry your Bibles."
Or perhaps, "… that you have sound doctrine."
Or maybe "…

But Jesus said none of these things.
He said that there is one major thing that will convince the world that we are His disciples,
and that is the love we have for one another.
We are not to be disciples of a theory or a doctrine or an institution – we are disciples of the loving Jesus Christ.
His love led Him to give His life for us, and that kind of love is commanded between the followers of Jesus.

If people want to know how we conceive the love of God, our answer is found in 1 John 3:16:
"In this we perceive the love of God, in that he laid down his life for us."
As a consequence, says John, "So we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

This is the supreme love.
Jesus told us, for "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
(John 15:13)

Love is the essence of discipleship.
Love is the wall that surrounds a disciple.
Love is the roof that protects them.
Love is the ground which supports them

The Bible says emphatically that though I speak with tongues of men and of angels,
have all wisdom, make tremendous sacrifices, give my body to be burned, and relinquish all I own,
I am worth nothing if I have not done them in love.

Most of us have to admit that we know very little about actually loving people.
We know that we have often love because of the benefits that come to us.
Divine love is impartial.
Divine love loves the repulsive and the attractive, the beggar and the wealthy.

Is this love really possible?
Does it really work?
When I give myself for the sake of another, when I "fall into the ground and die" in order to bear fruit,
when I deny myself and take up my cross and follow Jesus, does it make a revolutionary difference?
Or would it turn me into a blind fanatic rushing from one good deed to another, and getting trampled by the strong?

This love is possible, and it is very practical.
It does not come naturally, nor does it come instantly in a rededication service or in some particular experience.
Real love comes from God, who is love, and it is developed in the hard school of life over many years.
There may be a crises of appropriating God's love, but a process of expressing love follows
or it all becomes an abscess.

The Bible speaks clearly on how to acquire and develop God's love.

The first thing it tells us is that love is a fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love...

As every Christian has the Spirit, every Christian may have this love.
Ephesians 5:18 gives one of the few commandments about the Holy Spirit and the New Testament:
"Be not drunk with wine, where in is access; but be filled with the Spirit."
The filling produces an overflow that touches other people.

What are some evidences of the filling of the Spirit?
One is "… Speaking to [among] yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs."
It is a joy and encouragement shared with other Christians.
And it also communicates with God: "… singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
giving thanks always for all things
."
These signs accompany the love given by the Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures also teach that prayer will develop this love.
Paul is our example when he says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
that he would grant you… to be strengthened by his Spirit…
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge
." (Ephesians 3:14, 16, 19)

As the Lord blesses the person prayed for, He will also work in your heart.
Sometimes, we are partly responsible for others' weaknesses, and weaknesses in a brother's life
may reflect a weakness that is in our own.
If I have been spiritually discerning something wrong, through prayer I can help to change it.

Let us pray earnestly for the people we do not like or do not understand,
and God will make changes in the situation.
We have many examples of this in the Scriptures, and we are exhorted to pray for all men,
even our enemies as the Lord Jesus taught us.

Another helpful step is to pray with the person concerned…

Not as a superior, but as a brother who cares.
If you are having trouble with someone in your church or group, try to pray with him about various needs and joys.
This effort to share and understand will be rewarded by fellowship and a growing love.

The love of God believes the best about people, and discounts adverse reports and rumors and gossip.
Love sympathizes and love assists.

Perhaps there are intense problems handicapping the person.
Poor health may be dragging him down.
Background environment or heredity may still control the individual.
Unsolved problems from the past that are carried over into the future can handicap a person.
Sometimes circumstances may handicap.

Praying together can open the channel of love and wisdom from God to both.
Belief in the sovereignty of God enables us to rest in the confidence that God is in charge
of all that is going on in the earth.
Sometimes the devil seems so menacing near, but he is weak in comparison with our God
who is in charge of our lives.
Though Satan makes headway, he cannot overcome the Christian who is trusting God.

Another step that develops love is personal interest in the welfare of others.

This is shown by both words and deeds.
Sincere attention builds a bond that involves us in the lives of others.

If someone's personality rubs against ours, ask questions about your common concerns
and look for things to complement.
You will find love sprouting from the interest, and you may receive love in return.

It seems that there are some who find it easy to make fun of other people.
Such as the shape of their ears, the style of their clothes or their odd mannerisms.
Jokes about others are good fun unless those jokes wound the victim.

Amy Carmichael once said:
"If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another, if I can in any way slight another in conversation
or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast to what I think
are my strong points;
if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting "Who made thee to differ?
What hast thou that thou didst not received?"
Then I know nothing of Calvary love
."

Another stimulus to love is to give something to another.

There is a story of a husband and wife whose marriage was on the rocks.
The husband never remembered anniversaries or birthdays, and he was always complaining.
One day he inexplicably decided to bring her some flowers.
It was so unusual that when he came to the door and held out the flowers, she wept hysterically.

"What a miserable day!" She moaned.
"I've been having trouble with the children all day, the clothes washer broke, I burned the supper,
and then you have come home drunk
!"

Don't wait so long to rebuild the relationship that your gift cannot be believed.
Give something of practical help or a memento that shows that you really care.

Sometimes, we are blind to the plain words of Scripture.
Jesus commanded the help of His people to one another by saying:
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
(Matthew 25:40)

This is a revolutionary passage of Scripture, and if we let it penetrate our minds daily,
it would change our lives.

Our attitude toward the weak and the needy, God says, reveals our attitude toward His Son.
This should lead us to repentance.
"He who loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"
(1 John 4:20)

And have we forgotten what is called the Golden Rule?
It is found in Matthew 7:12: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,
do ye even so unto them; for this is the law and the prophets
."

This verse gives us a simple check-up on our speaking or acting:
"Would I enjoy this if it were directed at me?"
This would eliminate cruel gossip and destructive criticism, and would spare us from future judgment.

The Bible tells us we are to correct someone in the spirit of love when it is necessary.
Galatians 1:1: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual"
– which excludes quite a few Christians – "restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted
."

If we can go to someone to correct them without a hurting in our hearts, then we know nothing of Calvary love.
The love depicted in 1 Corinthians 13 allows no rejoicing hearts over the failure of another person.
Love never speaks with the attitude: "I told you so; you should have listened to me!"
Love sorrows with those who mourn, and lifts up those who fall.

In His love, God can transform sorrows and failure so that we can help and comfort others.
God, says Paul, "comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them
which are in any trouble, by the comforts wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God
." (2 Corinthians 1:4)

To rebuke and exhort another Christian is one of the most difficult things to do, properly.
It is easier to overlook the fault, but love must correct at times.
If I'm afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection or less the one concerned should say,
"You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness;
if I put my own name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

Love acts.

When we see a little child running toward a busy street, we do not just stand there and suggest:
"Wouldn't it be better to stay on the sidewalk?"
Oh no! We move immediately into action.
We grab the child back from the street in order to save its life.

The Bible says that we are to snatch men from the fire of hell.
To think such action is too drastic is a misconception of love.

The love of Jesus was not of the Hollywood variety.
His love led him to serve.

I believe it was also love that sent Jesus into the Temple to clean up the mercenary mess there,
and to chase out the greedy merchants with violence.
It was His love for righteousness.
It was His love for those who are being cheated.
His love led to action all through His life

Love grows – when it is exercised.
Supplying an all-conquering love is God's part.
Expressing love is our part.

As we walk with God, He will make us confident "of this very thing, that he which hath begun
a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
." (Philippians 1:6)

And God will work in the lives of others by love, for His perfect love never fails.

They'll Know We Are Christians

"We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

By our love, by our love.

And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

By our love, by our love

And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love."
-- By Carolyn Arends

Love is patient, love is kind
Never boasts, not full of pride
Always hopes, always trusts
It is the evidence of Christ in us

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White