John continues to share the commandment of love. We are more focused on our brothers and sisters in Christ today. And he shares HOW we can love; through faith.
How can we say we love God if we don’t love our brothers? “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
God says we can’t. So how can we love our brother? It is through His gift of faith. I LOVE that He tells us to do something and then GIVES us the ability to do so! Not like the world does; tell you to do something then leave you hanging without a clue as to how to accomplish it.
We are taught to love because we are shown love first. God loved us first and the expression of His love gives us the pattern of how to love. Jesus is that pattern. Following in His footsteps is our roadmap to learning how to love.
Two of His ‘deepest’ footprints came from His sharing of the commandments of God. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus shared two that encompassed ALL of God’s commandments. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 26:37-40).
These two commandments stretch from the beginning of time until its ending. They are not bound by Old or New Testament. They are the complete expression of God’s love and His will for us. By keeping these we show our love for Him AND for our brothers.
They are also the pure essence of our essential faith. You can’t love God if you don’t believe He exists. And without Jesus you wouldn’t have an example of how to truly love your brother. He showed us the pattern by being the perfect embodiment of that love to us first.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes it seems easier to demonstrate ‘love’ to someone outside of the ‘family’ than inside? Yes, we love our family members but we have to rub elbows with them every day and often that brings conflict with it too. This happens in our physical and spiritual families. But people in need outside the family are usually a quick encounter and don’t have time to develop that ‘rubbing effect’.
But within your family is where you learn to share REAL love. We learn to love in the tough times. We learn how to deal with conflict WITH LOVE. When we let Jesus’ love work in us we learn that we can’t ignore conflict and sweep it under the rug. Because ignoring it only makes it grow. Jesus dealt with conflict while He was here too. It came from His physical and spiritual family too. And he dealt with it instead of letting it fester. But He dealt with it in love. Sometimes that love looked a little harsh; “Turning and looking at His disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Mark 8:33). But His reproach NEVER lasted beyond dealing with the issue and He NEVER carried one hurt to the next. Each was met with love and handled, then completely forgiven.
Father God, I HAVE to learn to love like Jesus did! I HAVE to stop counting hurts. I also have to learn how to confront hurts like Jesus did; with complete restorative love. Help me learn to TRULY show Your kind of love. I’m almost afraid to pray this prayer because it feels like praying for patience. I’ve learned that when I pray for patience I get opportunities to exercise it, and they are NOT easy exercises. I’m afraid that I will have some ‘unfun’ opportunities to practice love with this prayer. But I KNOW it is necessary in order to truly learn, so bring them on. (I put that request in small letters because I’m cringing when I say it.)
I love You Jesus. I want to be more like You every day. I want my life to be a reflection of You. I want our relationship to be SO DEEP that nothing else shines through. I know I have a LONG way to go before that happens. Day by day and step by step, walk with me and show me Your paths. One day at a time.