“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus uses the word love (agape) four times in these two verses. As followers of Christ, we are not unaware that it is God’s will and desire for us to “love one another”. However, we don’t do a very good job of living this command out. What further complicates things is that God has a different definition for love than you and I have. Often, we feel we are being loving if we are simply kind to another person, when we do good because we have declared them to be worthy of our “righteous” deed. How often do we step back, seek the Lord’s wisdom, and ask “What do you want me to do? How do you want me to do or say it?” Then if we get a response or impression from the Lord that we don’t like, do we follow through with His will or our own?
If you remember from Sunday’s message, God’s definition of love, true love, pure love, agape love, is “a deliberate striving for another’s highest good, and is demonstrated through action.” In other words, love is a choice to do what is absolutely best for the person, in the best way, according to God’s standards. This results in true, loving actions. Agape is used over 200 times in the New Testament, and it is by far the most common form of “love”. A unique and wonderful fun fact of agape love is that outside of Scripture, this form of love was expressed very rarely in Greek literature/culture. What does this mean? Both the selfless love that Christ expressed on the cross for our “highest good” as well as the commands and expectations for us to love others “not contingent on any (perceived) value or worth in that person” are uniquely Christian. We are new creations in Christ, indwelt with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We now have the ability to live lives that well represent, glorify, and honor our savior. In fact, loving in a manner that is”unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another” shows this world that we are in fact disciples of Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to pray.
- Ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal to you those areas and tendencies in which you fall short of agape loving others
- Confess these to the Lord
- Ask forgiveness of others (as necessary)
- Pursue the Lord and be filled with His Holy Spirit
- Ask for His power and will to agape love as Christ did
- Walk according to the Spirit
Pastor Brian Rice