Commanded to Love?
June 13, 2022
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you (John 15:12-14).
These are some of the more difficult verses to accept, mainly because they are misunderstood. “How can a person be commanded to love?” “What kind of friendship is based on obedience to commandments?”
Jesus did not command His disciples, then or now, to love others. Love cannot be commanded, or it is not love. Love has to come from the heart and expressed through the will. What Jesus did command them, and us, is to love others as He had loved them (and us). To love others is the natural outflow of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Christian people love God, love Christ, and love others because it is the love of God that motivates us to do so. (1 Thessalonians 4:9) But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. (Hebrews 10:24) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. (1 John 3:14) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.
Those who ‘abide’ (live) in fellowship with the Lord are those who love the Lord and thereby have the capacity and ability, through the Holy Spirit, to love others as Jesus has loved us. (Romans 5:5) Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness . . . . Love for the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, fellow Christians, the church, etc. is characteristic of one who is truly saved and in fellowship with the Lord. (1 John 5:1-3) Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. This brings us back to the original word from Jesus - This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
The standard of love for Christians, which is high, is set by Jesus - not only in word, but in example. We are to love each other as the Lord Jesus Christ has loved us - sacrificially, consistently, motivated by holiness, executed in righteousness, without thought of return. Agape love is the goal set for us - to willfully find our joy in the object of our love. It is a major step above philo (friendship) love, which is based primarily in emotions. Jesus loved the unlovely, those who rejected His love, those undeserving of His love, those who hated Him to the point they wanted to kill Him. He stretched out His arms on a cross and died for them despite their rejection of His love for them. So we are to love one another as He has loved us. Amen.