Summary: Jesus said we should love one another. But why bother to tell us to do it? Shouldn't it come naturally to us? Apparently not. So, what do we need to understand in order to obey this command that Jesus gave us?
OPEN: Several years ago there was an Olympics held in Seattle Washington. And the special event that was talked about for years afterward was the 100 yard dash. Lined up on the starting line were 9 contestants, waiting for the gun to go off. At the gun, the started their run… kind of. For this was the Special Olympics a competition for physically or mentally handicapped people. The nine young men and women were filled with excitement as they ran and laughed and raced to the finish line.
But one little boy stumbled on the asphalt.
He tumbled over a couple of times and fell on his face and lay there crying.
The other eight heard him and slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back - every one of them.
One girl with Down's syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.
And everyone in the stadium stood, and the applause went on for what seemed like forever.
APPLY: What had that audience seen that day?
They had seen love in action.
And it had such a powerful effect on them that they stood and applauded.
Jesus told His disciples: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
In other words: if we show love by our actions the world will notice, they may even stand and applaud.
Now, this “loving one another” was not just some passing comment by Jesus. It became the royal law of the Kingdom. James 2:8 tells us “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”
In fact, love was to become such a crucial part of who we are as Christians that Galatians 5 tells us it is THE MARK of the Spirit bearing fruit in our lives.
Galatians 5:22-23 declares “… the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Notice… LOVE was the very first item on the list.
That was because love MUST be what we are known for as Christians.
The phrase “Love one another” shows up at least 14 or 15 times in the New Testament. As I looked over those passages, a question arose in my mind - how do I know if I’m truly being a loving Christian?
Then it occurred to me that I should look at some of the other “one another” passages and see what they say about loving.
ILLUS: One scholar noted that the phrase "one another" is used 58 times in the New Testament.
"Greet one another," "Bear with one another," and "Be devoted to one another" are but a few examples. It's the "one anothers" in the Bible that pull together the family of God.
So, let’s consider some of these “one anothers”
Galatians 6:2 (for example) declares “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.
• You can carry another’s other’s burdens by praying for them. Not just saying “I’ll pray for you” but saying “let me pray for you right now.” In saying that you’re declaring that you intend on to pray for them NOW and that you intend for them to hear you as you carry their burden to the very throne of God.
• You can carry another’s other’s burdens by meeting a financial need of theirs. Just last week a man came into my office and asked for an envelope. “How many do you need?” I asked. “Just one” he replied. Then he told me of a man in the congregation who had a need for $100 and he wanted to quietly pass this on to him.
• Or you can carry another’s other’s burdens by making food for them when they’re shut-in (I referred to a couple of recent families that we had taken food to in times of sickness)
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we can show love in another way: “… encourage one another and build each other up...”
• Encouragement is when you tell your Sunday School teacher what a great lesson they taught.
• Or tell someone how their faith or their actions have impressed you.
• Or sent them a letter telling them how much they mean to you. In my first congregation, I often visited one of their members who was in the Nursing Home. She had suffered a stroke and one side of her body was paralyzed. One day when I visited her, I found her writing a letter. “Who are you writing to”, I asked. “To people in the church, I’m writing to encourage them.”
Hebrews 10:24 tells us another way we can love each other - “… let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”