“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). God has described Himself by saying, “God is love.” He wants us to love Him with our whole heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves—what Christianity is all about. But if we won’t allow ourselves to be inspired by His love, we can know God and still be defeated in our lives. Even if we went to the extreme of dying on a stake as a martyr, He would not value our sacrifice—if it was made without love.
Somewhere along the way when we outgrew childhood, we seem to have stopped believing that “Jesus loves me.” As adults we find it very hard to believe that Jesus actually does love us, because His love is so great that it is a wonder to us. Therefore, we respond to His love is a way that comes very short of the joy He intends for us to have. Yet He really does love everyone, including us.
If we truly know God, then we love Him in return. And we will obey the laws He has set forth, not simply because He is God, but due to our love for Him. This is our highest motive for obeying what He commands. And once “…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5), then the very nature of God possesses us, and by our obedience to Him it becomes clear that we love Him. And once we truly love God, obey His Word and are committed to Him, the devil will be defeated in our lives.
Christians love the Heavenly Father and others the way He loves them. They do not love this world. But many people follow Christ for what He can give them, yet do not personally love Him, or intend to bow to Him as their Lord. Yet, when we see people who are not thankful for what God has done for them, it forces us to admit how ungrateful we have been to Him at times also.
How tragic that we can forget the glorious and wonderful love God has for us! But if we do not have love, we aren’t much different from a robot, responding and reacting without meaning. If we do not have love, we are not even fully human. And what kind of suffering could be greater than the kind we go through because we love our independence and ourself so much, yet both stubbornly refuse to submit to God? Our hearts can even become so filled to overflowing with love of self and self-pity that we can’t find space for Christ anymore!
When we make disciples for our Lord, we bring them into this love relationship with Christ. But if we fail to love our brother in Christ, it proves that we don’t really love God either. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
If we truly love someone, we will make a commitment of ourself to that person which does not waver. And if we give Jesus our affection, we will be joined to Him eternally in our love for Him. Yet how often does our love for Christ fall short of the kind of passionate love that we should be pouring out to Him?
God’s love for us is a love that never lets go, and He loves all of mankind with this kind of love. He loves each and every one of us, and continually calls out to any and all who will respond to His love. But He never forces anyone to love Him in return. We will never be worthy of heaven or of God’s love, yet He really does love us! And it is His highest desire for our relationship with Him to be one of perfect love—forever and ever!