“This I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17
Jesus’ command to “love one another” sounds elementary in theory, but it’s often more difficult in reality. Maybe that’s because we’ve bought into the world’s definition of what love is and how it behaves. It’s made out to be an uncontrollable emotion you either feel or don’t feel. Jesus presents a completely different view. Love is not a feeling to follow—it’s a command to obey. And God never tells us to do anything that’s impossible to do.
As believers, love is not something we have to generate. First John 4:12 says, “if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” Notice, it’s His love. Genuine concern for other believers is the natural result of knowing Jesus and growing in our relationship with Him. So, we can choose to respond in a loving manner, even to those we find difficult to like. That’s not to say that we put on a pretense but that we love one another the way Jesus loves us (John 13:34; 15:12).
What does that look like? Well, He perfectly embodies love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (vv4-7).
We tend to reserve that passage for weddings, forgetting that it describes how believers are to respond each and every day. Of course, this is in sharp contrast to how the world loves—which is exactly the point! Christ-like love should be a defining characteristic of every believer. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Is there a fellow believer you find difficult to like, much less love? Set your feelings aside and saturate your mind with God’s definition of love. Read 1 Corinthians 13 again, thinking about how the Lord responds to you. If you’ve reacted to someone in an unloving manner, do everything in your power to make it right. Because if “we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ” we should “love one another, just as He commanded us” (1 John 3:23).