“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NKJV).
The standard and measure of love God expects the New Testament believers to adopt, apply, or demonstrate in their relationships or dealings with people is infinitely higher and greater than that required of the Old Testament saints.
Sadly, many believers today are totally ignorant of this truth and so they still continue to adopt and apply the Old Testament’s standard of love in their relationships and dealings with people.
The Lord Jesus Christ commands His disciples to love people in a radical way that is completely different to and infinitely above the stipulation of the Mosaic Law.
The Lord Jesus commands His disciples in Matthew 5:
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, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (NKJV).
In the first part of this piece we examined the great differences between the commandment to love under the Law and Jesus’ new commandment to love. Let us recap these differences.
First, God’s people under the Law were permitted to discriminate in loving people. They were commanded only to love their families, friends or neighbours, but not their enemies (Lev. 19:18, Deut. 23:6).
On the contrary, the New Testament saints are commanded by Christ never to discriminate in loving people. Both friends and enemies are to be loved and treated equally, without any discrimination, prejudice or bias (Matt. 5:43-45).
Second, God’s people under the Law were not prohibited or forbidden from seeking for vengeance, reprisal or retaliation against people who hurt them (Lev. 24:19-20, Deut. 19:21).
But, Jesus’ new commandment of love forbids the New Testament saints to entertain, pursue or seek to have any form of vengeance, reprisal or retaliation against people who hate, hurt, betray or persecute them (Rom. 12:19-21).
The Lord Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.
41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. (NKJV).
Third, the standard of love expected of the Old Testament saints is “self”. The Law only demands that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18 NKJV).
However, the standard of love expected of the New Testament saints is “Christ Jesus.” The believers are commanded to love others as Jesus Christ has loved them.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (NKJV).
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (NKJV).
Can you love people as Jesus Christ has loved you?
Yes you can if you are a new creation in Christ!
How then can you begin to walk in love as Jesus Christ did and demand that you should do? Consider the following instructions!
First, you must acknowledge, admit or recognize that the Holy Spirit has poured out God’s kind of love in your heart at the point of the New Birth.
If you are born-again, you now have the spiritual capacity to love people as God loves them because you are now a partaker of the divine and loving nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4, 1 John 3:9, 4:7-8).
As a new creation in Christ you now share the same nature and spirit of love with Christ Jesus, for “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17 NKJV).
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6 NKJV).
At the New Birth, the Holy Spirit poured out into and filled your heart with God’s love (agape). So, you have been divinely and completely furnished and empowered by God to love people unconditionally, selflessly, unwavering, and completely as Jesus Christ has loved you.
You cannot walk in divine love if you don’t first acknowledge and believe that you have divine love in your regenerated heart.
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NKJV).
1 John 4:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (NKJV).
Second, you must seek to have and grow increasingly in your understanding, revelation or experiential knowledge of God’s love for you.
Many born-again believers today, who have God’s love shed abroad in their hearts, are not manifesting this agape love because they don’t know, understand, believe, or relish the love God has for them and has demonstrated towards them through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross (1 John 3:16, 4:9-10).
You cannot love people as Christ has loved you if you don’t first seek to know or understand the love that Christ has for you!
It is very vital for you to acknowledge, know, understand, and believe the truth that God the Father loves you unconditionally, unwaveringly, steadfastly, sacrificially, absolutely, completely, infinitely, and eternally, even as He loves His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
In His prayers for His disciples before His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus revealed that God loved them just as He has loved Him.
23 “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (NKJV).
Understanding, believing and living by this truth is very crucial to your demonstrating or walking in God’s kind of love!
If you are not rooted and grounded in God’s love, you cannot effectively demonstrate or manifest it to others. Until God’s love takes root in your heart, it cannot bear or manifest its fruit in and through you.
This is why Paul admonishes you to seek “to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV).
Many believers today are totally ignorant of how much God loves them. Consequently, they are always striving hard to earn God’s love through their performance and good works. How mistaken they are!
God’s love can never be merited, earned or bought. God loves you because He has chosen to love you. It is God’s nature to love, for God is love (1 John 4:8).
Third, you must seek to constantly renew your mind according to the truths of God’s Word.
Your mindsets determine, influence, control and direct your emotions and actions. Therefore, if you don’t possess the same mindsets as Jesus Christ, you cannot love people as Jesus Christ has commanded you to love them.
This is why Paul admonishes to “Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” (Philip. 2:5 WNT).
How do you have or possess the same mindset or disposition as Jesus Christ?
By renewing your mind constantly with the words, teachings or doctrines of Jesus Christ!
It is as you imbibe and abide in the teaching of Christ that your natural or carnal mind will be progressively renewed, sanctified and reset to allow you demonstrate or walk in love as Jesus Christ did.
The carnal or unrenewed mind is naturally set on loving, pleasing and indulging self! This is why many believers today are still selfish, hateful and vengeful. The carnal mind will continually hinder you from loving, esteeming and caring for others above yourself (1 Cor. 10:24).
You cannot love, pray and bless those who hate, hurt, abuse, or persecute you with a carnal or unrenewed mind!
You cannot ignore yourself to seek for other’s well-being if your mind is not renewed to think like Christ, who though He was God yet He emptied Himself and took the form of a bondservant and humbled Himself to be crucified on the cross as a mere criminal for our sins (Phil. 2:5-10).
Lastly, commit yourself to learning from Jesus and walking in Jesus’ footsteps.
The Lord Jesus Christ is your ultimate standard and perfect example of walking in love. He is the embodiment and revelation of God’s love to mankind. You cannot walk in love as Jesus did if you are not committed to looking unto, learning from, following after, and walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:28-30, 1 Pet. 2:21).
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:
13 “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. (NKJV).
Beloved, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Eph. 5:1-2 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to reveal Your love to me and to show me how to walk in love. Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me daily to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, in Jesus’ name. Amen.