What love is (and is not)
Jesus wanted His followers to be identified, not by our piousness, our knowledge, our beautiful buildings, our good looks (or not), but by our love for one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV). Why do you think Jesus wanted that? I believe, in part, because Jesus knew people would be inspired when they witnessed our love for one another and that others would also see the love of God in and through us.
People want to be loved. They want to love. They want to experience love… not a romantic feeling, but the act of love. As Believers, we are commanded to love one another. When we do that, we will make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ! There are at least two specific “one anothers" that help us understand what it means to love one another…
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Romans 12:10a (NASB)
12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NIV)
Love can be misunderstood. Some may say it is complicated… but is it? Maybe love is not really complicated… maybe we have complicated love because we don’t really understand it. We have turned love into an emotion, but it is more than that.
Love is not an emotion; it is a motion! Love is not a feeling, it is an act. Maybe that great band of theologians Boston was on the right track when they described love as “more than a feeling”. In the Bible, love is described as an action, not an emotion. Love is not something you feel, love is something you do; maybe you have heard, love is a verb.
Brotherly love is the translation of the Greek word “philadelphia”. It literally means “love of the brethren.” Now you know why Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love! Believers are to relate to one another as family members.
How do you relate to your family members? There should be a deep devotion to one another in a family. If you have healthy, strong relationships with your family members, you understand what this means. If not, you may struggle to grasp what we are called to as believers, but you can learn it, you can show it and you can absolutely experience it! Brotherly love is what makes Christian community so rich and special. Believers are to be devoted to each other as brothers and sisters. That same love can and should spill over into our relationships outside the family of believers.
Is there anyone in your life right now you are having trouble loving? Relationships can be messy… people can rub you the wrong way. They may hurt your feelings or anger you or disappoint you. How can you love people you are having trouble loving, even those in your own family?
Ask God to help you to be filled and overflowing with love for others! 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
With this verse, the Apostle Paul is saying that we should love each other so much, that our love is filled to the brim and overflowing to one another in our church family and to others. Our overflowing love can and will make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ!
I was listening to a fellow Watermarker last week share about an elderly neighbor she has been literally showering with love for months. Her neighbor said to her recently: “There is something different about you… I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is.” My friend said, “I’m going to keep on showing her!” Do you know what is different about my friend, who is a committed Christ-Follower? She is overflowing with love toward a neighbor who has never been loved like that in her life.
Will you ask God to let your love increase and overflow to others in your life? Will you open your eyes to opportunities to show people His love? It could be an elderly neighbor; it could be someone at work who is hurting; it could be someone who is lonely or has suffered a loss; it could be someone who just needs a friend right now… a lot of people do. Are your eyes open? Will you let the love of Christ overflow to that person?
It is not too hard to show love to people who are easy to love, but how do you love people who are not easy to love? Jesus taught about that…. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-48).
It is easy to love people who love you. Loving those who may not treat you in a loving way is really hard. I’m not pretending like that is an easy task or ask. It seems counterintuitive, unnatural, even unrealistic - and to mankind it may be; but to God it isn’t. That is why Jesus challenges us to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. Do you think it is hard on God when we disrespect and dishonor Him with our disobedience? Yet He doesn’t stop loving us.
Jesus calls us to love others like God loves us. You may say, “But I can’t do that? I don’t know how to do that!” Jesus tells us how to love our enemies… pray for them. When you are willing and able to pray for your enemies, you are loving them. Remember, love is not an emotion, it is a motion!
At Watermark, we want to love one another and for that love to increase and overflow to others in our lives so that we can and will make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ! For much more, click here to watch One Another - Part 2 - Be devoted to one another.