Summary: "Love One Another" is repeated again and again throughout the pages of the New Testament. Why dwell so heavily on this command when it would seem there is so much more to learn about God?
OPEN: "That’s marvelous, having a lion and monkey in the same cage," said the visitor to a small zoo. "How do they get along?"
"Okay, usually," answered the zookeeper. "Occasionally they have a disagreement, and we have to get a new monkey."
APPLY: Now, why do they need to get a new monkey? Why? Because things got along for awhile until the lion started acting like a lion. And as long as the lions act like lions the zookeepers will always need new monkeys.
Hold that thought!
James 2:8 tells us "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ’Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right."
The Apostle John in 1 John 3:11 wrote: "This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another."
Paul, in Romans 13:8 declared: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law."
Peter, in 1 Peter 1:22 told us: "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart."
And, of course Jesus said: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:9-12)
Does anybody sense a pattern here?
The commandment of the kingdom, the royal law, the proclamation of the King of Kings & Lord of lords is: Love one another.
God lays a heavy emphasis on “loving one another?” … Why say it so often throughout the New Testament? Why not just say it once… and then move on?
I. Because you and I don’t come by this naturally
We don’t know how to love as we should (reread I John 4:7-10)
God’s kind of love doesn’t come naturally to us. Many of us either lived a selfish unloving lifestyle, or it was just beneath the surface.
ILLUS: For example, I think of myself as a pretty nice guy. I’m easy going, easy to get along with, give you the shirt off my back… BUT, not the food off my plate. My wife discovered - shortly after we were married - that there was one thing I didn’t appreciate: if she would eat the food from my plate. It’s not that I would growl or snap. I just got edgy and irritable. It would spoil my whole meal.
Why would I be that way? Because, just beneath the surface - I’m as selfish as the next guy.
Colossians 3:1-10 goes thru a litany of sinful behaviors anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips and then says "You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." (Colossians 3:7).
That’s how we used to be. That’s how we used to live.
And if we don’t grab hold of God’s decree “Love One Another” there will be times we’ll revert to our old nature, like the lion in the zoo. As long as the "lion" in us lives… there will always need to be more monkeys. There will always be "chew them up and spit them out" times when we’re not very nice.
ILLUS: When that happens we can become like the little girl who had spent the whole day fighting with her sister. That evening they prepared for bed, still mad at each other. As usual, they knelt beside their beds for their prayers.
"Dear God," the 8 yr. old began, "Bless Daddy and Mommy, bless our cat and dog." Then she stopped.
Her mother gently prodded, "Didn’t you forget somebody?"
She glared across the bed at her 6 yr. old sister and added, "And, oh yes, God bless my ex-sister." That’s like us when we forget to "love one another."
And so God repeats it over, and over, and over again. EVEN stressing that if we can’t forgive a brother his sins against us… He won’t forgive us our sins. It is not optional for us.
II. So, if it’s that critical… why do Christians have trouble doing it?
Why do have such difficulty "loving one another." It’s because, as Christians, we start out with the habit of receiving – not giving love (I John 4:10/19).
We didn’t become Christians because we gave God our love. We became Christians because He 1st loved us. We received His love. THEN, from the beginning of a person’s decision for Christ, the Church does everything for the new believer.