36 Question 3

The Bible instructs us to love everyone.  The Lord Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  To love one another was not a new commandment.  Leviticus 19:18 says, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”  What was new was the type of love that the Lord told us to have to one another.  “As I have loved you” is the way the Lord instructs us to love.  He has commanded us to love each other with a sacrificial and unconditional love; a love that puts others above ourselves.  This is the instruction of how we are to love fellow Christians.  What about those who are not Christians?  What about those who mistreat us or don’t love us?  The Lord instructs us in Matthew 5:44 to, “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

So, we see the Lord has told us to love everyone, whether they are saved or not; whether they are our friends or our enemies.  Wow, that’s a tough thing to do, isn’t it?  We can be assured that the Lord never asks us to do anything that He doesn’t give us the ability to do.  Romans 5:5 tells us that, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  The Lord gives us the love we need so that we can love others.  Hebrews 13:1 tells us to, “Let brotherly love continue.”  That shows that if we do not interfere, the love for others will happen; we need to let that brotherly love flow unhindered by our emotions or the acts of others.

To love others can be very difficult when we begin to think that others should somehow deserve or earn our love.  It is easy to love someone that loves us and treats us with love.  It’s a work of the Lord to love those that are not easy to love.  Luke 6:32 says, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”  The Lord loved us when we were completely unlovable.  We have not, nor could we ever, deserve the love of God.  The Lord loves us because “God is love” as we read in 1 John 4:8.  With our concentration on how much the Lord loves us; we will find it possible to love others.  With our concentration on how much others love us, we will find it impossible to love others as we should.  While the Bible tells us to love others, it really doesn’t tell us to look for love from others.  Our love to others must be sacrificial and unconditional.  It cannot depend on how they love us; it depends on how the Lord loves us.

Let’s look at a few characteristics of the love the Lord expects us to show to one another from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  You can love others the way you should.  Don’t think about the faults and failures of others.  Think about the Lord and His love for you.  Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  (36.3)