Summary: We are not asked to love. We are commanded.
As we continue on in our study of 2 John, once again God has brought us right back to the subject of loving one another. So here we go again.
In verse 1, note the word “ask”. What John is now saying is urgent, it’s an absolute necessity. What is it? Love—we must love one another. Love is not an option for believers.
John says he is not writing a new commandment. We know that all too well as many times as we have talked about this subject in our studies of John’s writings. This is an old commandment, the very same commandment that we had from the beginning.
Last week we were just introduced to the person or people John was writing this letter to. Note tonight how John immediately brings up the subject of love. This tells us that the dear friend of John was having problems with some people. Some people were mistreating her Lord and her. We know from the next passage that there were some false teachers who wanted to teach in her church or else they wanted to use her house for some purpose.
Last week we said how many false teachers were traveling around and taking advantage of the Christian people. This apparently was going on here. Maybe they wanted free room and board. Maybe they wanted to use her home for their study group or church social function.
Apparently she had refused to grant the request, and as a result, he was being criticized. Whatever the case was, she had actually refused to open her home to some false teachers or else John was instructing her not to welcome them. In either case, the lady was under attack of some in the church.
Now note John’s exhortation to her. What did he tell her to do? Love them. No matter what they say about you, no matter how they mistreat you, no matter how they hurt you, love them.
The point to this is that love is the very first commandment that man ever received from God, and it’s the very first commandment that we ever received from Christ. It’s even the first commandment that we receive when we become a believer. Love is the first commandment of the church itself.
God had said way back in Leviticus (19:15) that we are to love our neighbor. Jesus proclaimed that love would be the distinctive mark of His followers, the very mark that would show the world that a person was a true follower of His. (Jn. 13:35)
Note another fact about verse 5. This lady was being exhorted to love those who were mistreating her. She wasn’t being told to:
• Love her friend but not her enemy.
• Love the good but not the bad.
• Love the righteous but not the sinner.
• Love the acceptable but not the unacceptable.
• Love the friendly but not the abusive.
• Love the kind but not the criticizer.
This is a totally new concept of love. Man has always felt that he was to love his friends. Man’s tendency is to treat those who mistreat him the same way.
But John says, “No.” He instructs this lady to love those who mistreated her. How? How can we possibly love those who mistreat us? We must love as God loves. We must have to love of God within our hearts and lives.
READ v. 6. Now let’s talk a little more in detail about this love as Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. Love is a behavior—a way of life—a walk. It’s obeying God’s commandments. Love is obedience. The only way we can show that we love God is by doing what pleases Him.
When we love someone, we want to do things that please them. We want their acceptance and approval. We want for them to love us in return. So we’re careful to do things that will please them and win their favor and love.
The same is true with us and God. We keep His commandments. We walk like Jesus walked. We exhibit the character of love as described by Paul.
Love is patient. What does that mean? The Greek word us for patient means being patient with people, not with circumstances. No matter the evil or injury done by the person love is patient a long time without resentment or anger.
Love is kind. What does that mean? Courteous, good, helpful, useful, giving, showing and showering favors. Love doesn’t resent evil. Love reaches out in kindness, in helpfulness, in giving and showing favor to the person who neglects or hurts us.
Love doesn’t envy. What does that mean? It’s not jealous. It doesn’t have feelings against others because of what they have. It doesn’t hold a grudge or attack or downplay the abilities and success of others. Love shares and rejoices in the experience and good of others.