Love One Another
Most of us know the story “Beauty and the Beast,” about an ugly creature and the beautiful woman who loved him. The beast changes into a prince when he falls in love. Why? Because love has the power to change you. But only God’s kind of love has the power to melt you, heal you, and even grow you. The biblical definition of agape love is compassionately and righteously pursuing the well-being of another.
The kind of love we see in today’s self-absorbed society isn’t biblical love. It’s self-love. This love sounds something like this: “I love me and anything that enhances my love for me. If you don’t enhance my love for me, then I don’t love you.” That’s not the commandment we’re called to obey. Jesus not only expected love but also commanded love:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” —John 13:34-35
In our world today that doesn’t seem to make sense. How can anyone command love?
That question reveals our basic misunderstanding of love. You see, love is a decision, not just an emotion. If love were based entirely on emotions, Jesus wouldn’t have told us to love our enemies (see Matt. 5:44) since that wouldn’t be emotionally possible.
When Jesus commands us to love one another—even our enemies—He isn’t asking us to have butterflies in our stomachs about the people we don’t like. He’s instructing us to make a deliberate decision to compassionately and righteously pursue their well-being.
Even in friendships or romantic relationships, feelings of love come and go. All relationships have ebbs and flows. The key to loving well isn’t to base love on your emotions but on a decision to seek another person’s well-being in what you do, say, or pray.
If God based His love for us on the way we made Him feel with our actions, most of us would be in a world of trouble. Before being saved, we were His enemies (see Rom. 5:10). Thankfully, love is the centerpiece of God’s relationship with us, “for God is love” (1 John 4:8). We’re not only eternally reconciled with Him through the cross; we’re born again and raised to a new life today. In Christ we’re given brand-new hearts.
When we love others, we best reflect the nature and heartbeat of our Lord toward us. People know we’re disciples of Christ when we show love for them in word and deed.
Love is the greatest commandment. Cultivate the decision to love in your mind and will. Then watch it overflow to your words and actions. If you give love to someone else, God’s love will likewise abide in you. Give someone else more of you, and you’ll experience more of God.
Excerpted from Tony Evans, Horizontal Jesus Bible Study. © 2015 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (Lockman.org.)