Summary: Among the great abilities that characterized the life of Jesus was His everlasting determination to practice genuine love toward those who crossed His pathway.
Title: The Command to Love
Text: “This I command you, to love one another.” (John 15:17 RSV)
Bible Reading: John 15:12-17
Among the great abilities that characterized the life of Jesus was His everlasting determination to practice genuine love toward those who crossed His pathway. If we want to be true followers of Jesus Christ, we too must see life as an opportunity to love, and we must see people as those to whom we have the opportunity of demonstrating genuine Christian love. The message today is about love. It’s the strongest emotion that a person can feel, and the New Testament contains many admonitions to love God and others. It’s what John wrote about in Chapter 15 of his gospel. There it says--
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17 This I command you, to love one another.
There are three parts to the message:
1. We are commanded to love.
2. The Greeks used different words to describe different kinds of love.
3. Jesus said, “Love one another, even as I have loved you.”
I want to begin by saying “We are commanded to love.”
John, the apostle who called himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” wrote this about God’s love for us:
8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation [or payment] for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:8-11)
The first verse presents us with one of God’s greatest attrubutes: he is love. But, love is not a definition of God—God is infinitely more—but God is the definition of love. Without Him, love does not exist. God’s love is self-starting, indestructible, undeserved, compassionate, constant, immeasurable, voluntary, and a gift. He did not begin loving at the Cross, nor will He love us more tomorrow than He does today. There is nothing we can do, think, or say that will change His love because there are no surprises for God—He knows us totally and loves us anyway.
The goal of God’s love is to have us with Him throughout eternity. He made this goal possible through Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross. There are five things about God’s command to love that I want to show you.
The first is, we are commanded to love God completely.
We are to put God first at all times. Matthew puts it this way, “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37) Love is evidence of salvation. If you are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, you have His nature within you. Since “God is love,” His children who have His nature should also make His love known to others. The children should be like their Father!
Another thing about God’s command to love is that we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:39).
Most of us have a problem about this point because we don’t love ourselves the way we should. Therefore, we do not have a proper measure by which to know how to truly love our neighbor. Our love for others makes God’s love real and visible to them, so we can better witness to them about Christ. It also makes God real and personal to us.
Merely reading in the Bible about God’s love is not enough. We need to experience that love in our heart by sharing it with others. This is what Jesus had to say about it; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).
There is another command and perhaps it is the hardest to accept; we are commanded to love our enemies. Most of us have difficulty at this point because we think of love as an emotion, a sentimental attachment, or a romantic attachment. In one of His sermons, Jesus had this to say about loving your enemies.