As I have studied the “more excellent way,” I find I fall so short. At the same time, I am able to see God bigger and more awesome than ever before. I am grateful and confident that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion.” (Philippians 1:6)
I have learned that, until we are able to identify our blindspots, it is difficult to bring it before the Lord…to receive correction, to repent, and to ask for wisdom and direction. I want God to change me from the inside out so that everything I do and say will glorify Him.
What is the mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ?
How we love one another is how people (believers and unbelievers) can tell that we are disciples of Christ. Unbelievers might not know to call us disciples but they should be able to tell that we are different than the world by the way we love one another.
Jesus states clearly what really marks us as belonging to Him…In John 13:35-36 Jesus says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
LOVE is our mark.
We want to be known as Christians, even good ones but, I think, sometimes we just aren’t willing to do the hard work of being a Christian. It’s easier to sport the latest Jesus sticker, Scripture bracelets and cross necklaces and C28 toe rings (I have lots of those), Jesus pens, 20 different versions of the Bible (it’s true), New York Times bestseller books written by the best Christian authors ever. Carrying all that stuff around or reading all those books is so much better than facing someone you feel like smacking and saying “I haven’t loved you well, I’m sorry.”
Some of us may find our mark in being a pastor, worship leader, life group leader, elder or whatever leader. We try to ramp it up by doing what good Christians do by going to church EVERY Sunday or going on a mission trip, serving locally or giving generously or tithing regularly.
Now, don’t get me wrong…these things aren’t bad things but they are not the mark of us belonging to God.
1 John 4:7-8 (ESV) 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
It is important to note that it is impossible for you to love like God loves (agape love) without “God’s love being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5).
As we have the Holy Spirit living in us…we can then carry out the command of Jesus to love one another…sacrificially, and earnestly, and joyfully.
Loving people is no easy task. Yet we are commanded to do so, to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to even love and pray for our enemies.
Question…what does it mean then if we are not known by our love? If God breathed all these Scriptures about love and we refuse to love like Jesus, what does that say about us? Are we just noisy gongs?
I like to ask questions!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Let me get this straight…LOVE is more important than any spiritual gift…LOVE is more important than all knowledge…LOVE is more important than faith…LOVE is more important than generosity including dying for the cause of Christ.
If loving others is a command of God, how do we constantly find ourselves in situations where we justify that LOVE is not warranted in any particular situation?
I believe there are three biggies that hinder our ability to love: FEAR of getting hurt, PRIDE and UNFORGIVENESS. I’m sure there are more but I believe these to be the big boys. I know it’s been true in my own life.
Look at 1 Peter 4:8 (ESV) Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Walking this thing called love out is hard work but we must do what is uncomfortable and do it with the right heart motive (love)…and never stop doing it. There is freedom in it y’all!
I wanted to share something I found about how a pastor helped a man never give up on his relationship with his wife. It kind of drives the point home for me by giving me an example of how we must press through even when we feel like quitting…
A man wanted to divorce his wife. He went to his pastor for advice. The pastor read Ephesians 5:25 “husbands, love your wife” [HCSB]. “But I don’t love her”, replied the man.
Then they looked at John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The pastor suggested they love each other as fellow Christians. The man replied, “But we fight all the time. The longer I stay with her the less I like her.”
So the pastor turned to Matthew 22:39 – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” “The minister pleaded with him to love her at least like the neighbor next door.” The man answered, “Pastor you just don’t understand. We’re not even friends anymore.”
Finally, they turned to Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
God doesn’t want us to quit!
Let’s stop letting our emotions decide what we will or will not do. Let us humble ourselves and set our feet on the path God has for us. Let us not justify our sin as we continue to hurt and divide the Body of Christ. Let us confess that we are powerless to do anything without God’s help. Let us admit our need for Jesus to save us. Let us yield to the Spirit as He changes us from the inside out. Let us be willing to do what God has commanded us to do for His Glory and for our good.
God sent His Son to die for our sins so that we could be saved. Jesus died for our sins WHILE we were still sinners. That’s a pretty big deal. He says we are worth it…even after all that we have done. He loves us so much. Let us make Him known by our love for one another.