My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12, NIV)
Many people in the world practice Jesus’s love: the missionaries who preach Jesus’s love at the forefront of the gospel, the ministers who work day and night to present the right way to saints in the church, the saints who practice Jesus’s love and also preach the gospel in their places, the businessmen who give the profit back to society by helping the neighbors in trouble in God’s name, many who glorify Jesus in various forms through their talents. Where does their motivation come from? The power to do these things for others. That is because they have deeply experienced God’s love. The people who have realized His love deeply can stand at the forefront to practice the love, sometimes even by taking risks. They have God’s essential attribute, love, in their heart. Without His love, they can never do that. They are also obedient to the supreme command that Jesus has given us. In John 15:12, Jesus says that it is his command to love each other as Jesus has loved us. James 2:8 also records that loving our neighbors like ourselves is keeping the royal law found in the Bible. We can obey Jesus’s Word by loving our neighbors, which is our duty as a debtor for God’s love. To love our neighbor is the greatest obedience.
To love our neighbor is the greatest obedience.
In Mark 2, the conversation between Jesus and a teacher shows that how important love is. The teacher asked Jesus what the most important of all the commandments was.
Jesus answered, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
It is our natural duty to love God because He has created us and regarded us most preciously. Also, He gave Jesus to save us and called us before we knew Him. We can show that we love God through various endeavors. The process of knowing who God is and what He likes by meditating on the Bible is one of the ways to love God. It is also one way to communicate with Him through prayer and spend much time with the Lord through worship. Moreover, it is one of the best ways to make others glorify God through our words, our behaviors, and our lives. In John 14:15, Jesus teaches how we can love the Lord. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” This statement shows exactly the way to love Jesus. Since we love Jesus, according to His commands, we testify the gospel to our neighbors, love each other, pray, serve for nothing, abandon the world’s lust, honor our parents, educate children with the Bible, pay tithes, read the Bible, and find out more about what to do. If we love Jesus, His command is not a burden. It is joyful to obey, and we get courageous. Thus, the author of Psalm 119 said in verse 47 that he delighted in God’s commands because he loved them.
Secondly, Jesus told the teacher to love our neighbor as ourselves, saying that there is no greater commandment than this.
If we are children of God, our neighbors are also His children. Therefore, all of us are brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are not objects to hate, but ones to respect and love. If our neighbors have not yet welcomed Jesus, God is still waiting for them to repent and come to Him. Therefore, it is natural for us to love them. We should treat our neighbors first in the same way we want them to treat us. Also, we should serve and respect them first. It is the highest obedience that we love our neighbors, just as Jesus forsook Himself and died for us. Jesus says that those who realize and do it are not far from the kingdom of God. First John 3:14 also shows that if we love our neighbors, we have passed from death to life, but anyone who does not love remains in death.
Just as Jesus has done for us, He asks us to love each other beyond the level of love we normally think of.
In Matthew 5:44, He says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It is too hard to love those who are evil, despicable, and hateful to us. However, Jesus commands us to love even such enemies. There are two reasons for it. First, we can resemble God’s character by loving our enemies. The Lord causes the sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the righteous and the wicked. It means that He is merciful even to the wicked. However, if we hate our enemies, we do not follow the character of God who shows His favor to them. Second, God’s people must know how to practice the love that others cannot. To love only those who love us is what those who do not believe in God can also do, and we cannot reveal His glory in that way. Loving our enemies is a way of obedience, to follow what Jesus has shown, just as Jesus has loved us by dying for us who were God’s enemies. Having the heart of Jesus, we must forgive them, bless them, be kind to them, and pray for them.
Figure 16. Real Value of Love
The best way to take after God’s character is to do good to the poor and to be rich in good works for them.
As a reward for it, God has promised inheritance of the kingdom of heaven and the amazing blessing on the earth. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus regards Himself as the same as the weakest of the world by saying, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” God is love, standing on the side of them and defending them. The Lord gives blessings for good deeds on the weak but retaliates with the eternal fire for evil behaviors that ignore them. To sympathize and help the poor and the neglected means that God’s love is in us. On the contrary, to ignore and pretend not to know them means that His love is not in them. Therefore, good deeds for the weak in Jesus’s love are the seeds to obtain the greatest things from God.
In Isaiah 58, God has promised a wonderful blessing on goodness to the poor and the hungry in the world. The promise of this blessing applies not only on an individual level but also on a regional and national level. Our good works are to share our food with the hungry, to provide shelter to the poor wanderer, to clothe the naked, and to pray for them. Also, it is a good deed to give help and pray that they will be well when we see our brothers, sisters, and even relatives in trouble, not to turn away from them. When we do this, the Lord will free our troubles, and our healing will quickly appear, said God. Our righteousness will go before us, His glory will be our rear guard, and we will be victorious in the protection of God wherever we go. Also, whenever we pray and call for help, the Lord will quickly answer and say, “Here am I.” Moreover, He will always guide us where we should go, keep us safe, and satisfy our needs. So, we will be like a well-watered garden.