Updated: Jun 12
How are you doing with loving others?
Do you love people like Jesus loves them? How about that annoying person sitting next to you at work, or the person who lives next door and who ignores the HOA demands for weed removal? What about the person who was promoted over you, or the one who talks behind your back, or the one who turned you in to HR?
Fellas, what would your marriage look like if you loved your wife sacrificially? What if you loved her like Jesus loved the church? “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). What if we loved our wives without expecting anything in return?
Most of us have no idea how this would all turn out because we’ve never tried it, never done it. That’s just honesty. And if you want something even more challenging, how about loving your ex, or the person who held up your convenience store, or the one who ran the red light and slammed into your El Camino coupe’ sending your daughter to the hospital?
This Is My Commandment
Jesus said we must love like He does., “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12). But how the heck do we do that? Does that mean I have to wash your feet? Does that mean I have to wash Judas’s feet? Does that mean I have to lay down my life for people who aren’t worth it?
I guarantee you that Jesus knew we could never love like that. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit, so that we just might be able to exercise the authority He gave Christians to live like Him, and to die like Him. Listen, when the Spirit is present in us, it is possible to exhibit His fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 2:22-23). Notice the first fruit is love, and without love, the other eight are not possible.
Love That Is Sacrificial
The love of Christ manifests itself in many ways, but the chief characteristic of His love is that it is sacrificial. That is what sets it apart from everything else. His love is unconditional. He loves us just because. There isn’t a reason. We don’t deserve it and we certainly don’t earn it. And the only way we can really fathom His love is through His Spirit dwelling within us, in those who believe. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). That means that His love doesn’t start with me. I am an instrument of love, not an originator of love. Paul said that God has demonstrated His love for us “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
What kind of God would die for a bunch of sinful reprobates like us? Why would God even put up with us? Just asking that question shows how little I truly understand His unfathomable love. And I’m supposed to love like He does. Wow, that’s asking a lot.
Someone who would die to save someone else is considered a hero. That’s the person who dives on a grenade to save his buddies. But who would die for an enemy? That’s exactly what Christ did; He died to save even His enemies. We were God’s enemies, deserving death for our sins, but Jesus stepped in to die for us, in our place. That is how God demonstrated His love for us. He loves us so much that Christ died for us. That is grace beyond measure.
This is the essence of God’s love that He “so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). John says, in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the sacrifice to take away our sins.”
Followers of Christ Are Identified by Love for One Another
Well, there is only one way I can love as He loves. I have to submit myself to Him, to His guidance. I have to allow His love to flow through me toward others. I have to bury myself in His Word and allow it to flow through me to others, including my enemies. Jesus created His church with an identifying factor, and that is love. Followers of Christ are identified by love for one another. That’s where it starts. We love other Christians unconditionally, sacrificially, forgiving each other, and when we have accomplished that enormous feat, we begin to love even our enemies. Knowing and living within the sacrificial love of Christ is better than living, which makes sacrificing your life for others an easier choice.