“Love one another as I have loved you”
John 15:12

Christ is the source of love among Christians.

Jesus told His followers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).

This command was new because it tapped a source of love far superior to any love the world had known before. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).

Love among Christians is exceptional because it is the very love of Christ Himself. How can I not love a brother for whom Christ died, as He also died for me? Together we are engulfed by the love of Christ. Our hearts are “knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).

This bond of love exists only among faithful followers of Christ. “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). At baptism we receive the gift of the Spirit: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This depth of love is found only among those who have been born again, born by water and the Spirit (John 3:5, 7).

God’s love is in our hearts by the power of the Spirit. This enables us to love others in a way that would be impossible otherwise. Christians are able to love even their enemies! (Luke 6:27, 35).

We must cultivate this love to bring it to fruition. “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected [τετελείωται] in him” (1 John 2:5). The banner of God’s love must be unfurled in our hearts by obedience.

Christians learn to love by following Christ.

Only by following Him can we love one another as He loved us. We follow Christ by obeying Him and abiding in His love. “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17). “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9, 10).

His commands define love and teach us how to love: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2).

“Speaking the truth in love,” we are to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15, 16).

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Christians radiate the love of Christ.

When we love one another as Christ loves us, others can see His love in us and recognize its Source. When we extend His love to others, they can feel the love of Christ. His love spreads forth through us to them.

Jesus tells His followers: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). “He who loves his brother abides in the light” (1 John 2:10).

One purpose of the assembly is to “stir up love” (Hebrews 10:24). In the church of Christ there is a chain reaction of love. Activated by Christ, Christians love each other and radiate His love to all the world.

Christian love is self-sacrificing.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:12-14).

Of Himself Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Christian love is abundant.

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

“But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10).

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

Learning to love as Christ loves us is a life-long assignment. His love is so immense that our love for one another never measures up to His love for us. Thus we are admonished to increase our love, to become more like Christ.

Christian love is genuine and benevolent.

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17, 18).

Christian love is fervent and pure.

“And above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8). “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Christian love is humble and affectionate.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:9, 10).

Christian love is patient and compassionate.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).

Love is the greatest good on earth.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Paul gives an overview of love’s greatness by listing various attributes: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

The love of Christ has transforming power.

The love of Christ transformed James and John.

James and John were called “sons of thunder” when they first came to Jesus (Mark 3:17). They wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village that refused to provide lodging for Jesus (Luke 9:54). Jesus chided them: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55, 56).

James and John wanted to be exalted above the other apostles: “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:37). “And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John” (Mark 10:41).

But James and John learned to love their fellow disciples as Jesus loved them.

James was the first of the twelve to give his life for Christ. Herod “killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2).

When John wrote his Gospel he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). He had learned that Christ’s love for us is the example to be followed.

In his letters he emphasizes love among Christians. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

The love of Christ transformed Peter.

Before Peter learned the lesson of love, he thought he was more faithful than anyone else: “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29). Before morning light, he denied Jesus three times.

After the resurrection, however, when Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love Me more than these?” he no longer exalted himself, but said simply: “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” (John 21:15).

Peter emphasizes love among Christians in his letters. “Love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17). “Love as brothers” (1 Peter 3:8). “Above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8). Add “to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:7).

Through the centuries countless people have been transformed by the love of Christ.

The love of Christ transformed Murray and Joe.

In Toronto, Canada, two boys were skipping stones through the front door and down the aisle of the meeting place of a church of Christ during services. The door was open because of the summer heat. An older brother went out the back, circled around behind the boys and gave them a choice: “Do you want to come in and sit quietly beside me for the rest of the service, or do you want me to call the police?” They decided to go in and sit beside him! After services he told them they were always welcome.

On a subsequent Sunday, before services, one of the boys was standing shyly up the street. The same brother motioned for him to come and he came. The two boys started attending Sunday school. Although they were unruly and disruptive because of their background, Christians patiently showed them the love of Christ. They also attended Omagh Bible Camp (and almost burned the main building down).

Touched by the love of Christ, both became gospel preachers and dedicated their lives to sharing God’s love with others. Murray Hammond preached in Ontario. Joe Cannon became a missionary to Japan and Papua New Guinea, and in later years (before his passing in 2012) to Ukraine.

Let us cherish and nourish this blessing of love we share in Christ.

Christ is the source of love among Christians. We learn to love by following His example and obeying His commands. He enables us to radiate His love. Christian love is self-sacrificing, abundant, genuine, benevolent, fervent, pure, humble, affectionate, patient and compassionate.

Let us obey the words of Christ: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive