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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Love as Jesus Loved You

It is the night of the Last Supper. After communion with His disciples, washing their feet, and revealing Judas is the disciple that will betray Him. Jesus informs His disciples that He is leaving them and they cannot come. They are devastated. The one they had given their life to follow would leave them. And amid their emotional turmoil, he tells them something else:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

These words were part of Jesus’ last words to them, so they were certainly very important. Jesus commands them to love each other as He has loved them.

Many Christians believe they are unable to love as Jesus did. They may work hard to reach that target, but they find themselves falling short. Would Jesus give His disciples a command He knew they could not keep? Of course, He wouldn’t. Then why is it so hard sometimes for us to love others? 

Perhaps, we don’t understand the love of God we have received.

God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us. God doesn’t love us because we are nice or beautiful, go to church, or keep His commandments just right. God doesn’t respond to us based on what we do for Him. We can’t do anything worthy enough to receive His love. God responds to us based on Jesus’ unconditional love for us on the cross. Jesus met the conditions of God’s love. He earned it. We can’t.

God’s purpose in creation was to give Him pleasure (Revelations 4:11). He wanted someone to love and for them to willingly love Him in return. Adam and Eve were created for His pleasure, and we were created for His pleasure and fellowship with Him. 

God’s purpose in creating us was to have a relationship with Him. When religion, instead of relationship, becomes our focus, we begin to tie God’s love for us to something we do for Him. When we believe God loves us and acts on our behalf according to our performance, we hold others to the same standard. Our love for others is then based on how they treat us. If God based His love for us on how we treat Him, none of us would be worthy of love. 

We had no beauty or worth to pay the price. We had no works worthy of the price. Only Jesus’ unconditional love for us did.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God’s love has never been conditional. He loved us at our worst. Most Christians believe you are saved by grace through faith, no matter your past. But for some, that is where grace ends and religion begins.

Religion focuses on outward behavior instead of the inner witness of a changed heart. Religion says God demands you do everything perfectly. Trying to prove your holiness to God becomes a burden instead of freely living righteously out of your relationship of love in Jesus.

God isn’t focused on your behavior. God is focused on your heart. It is wrong to lie, steal, commit adultery, or any other sin. What we do is nothing more than the product of our relationship with God or the lack of our relationship with God. God always looks at the heart.

You will never fully receive God’s love if you believe He judges you according to your performance. Love is a decision, and God decided to love you even though you didn’t deserve it. There is nothing you can do to earn it or deserve it. You must receive it as a free gift.

When you understand how much God loves you, it becomes easier to love others. When you love others as Jesus has loved you, your behavior will change toward them. If you love your spouse the way Jesus unconditionally loves, you will never be unfaithful to them. If you love your neighbor as Jesus loves you, you will never steal from them or bear false witness against them.

How does the world know that we are His disciples? John 13:35 says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A Pharisee, who was a lawyer, asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered him in Matthew 22:37-40.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

The Pharisees wanted Jesus to name the most important commandment— “You shall not.” But instead, Jesus named the most important—“You shall love.” 

Don’t mentally try to earn God's love thinking, “I must do this, or I must do that.” You will become focused on yourself instead of Him. Jesus has already made the decision to love you with His life. You freely receive His love that loves the Lord will all your heart, soul, and mind. You freely receive His love to love others. You can never love with His love when you try to earn what is impossible for you to earn.

Whether you realize it or not, you will treat others as you believe God treats you. Once you understand how much God loves you, love will flow out of you toward others. You will freely give away the love you have freely received. 

You will love as He has loved you.


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