“You are to love the Lord Yahweh, your God, with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, with every thought that is within you, and with all your strength. This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbour in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.”
Mark 12:30-31 (The Passion Translation)
The challenge for us to love each other is peppered throughout the scriptures but can we honestly say we love our neighbour as ourselves?
This is something that has always bugged me because it’s easy to love our friends and family but what about the weirdo who lives across the street or the people who gossip about you behind your back? What about that work colleague who swears at you or that boss who you are sure hates you?
As an introvert I am not always comfortable around people I don’t know, so it is always a challenge to me to make sure I appear warm and friendly even if I don’t feel like it on the inside. However, Jesus is not asking us to “fake it.” It’s a command!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
So how do we do it? 1 John 4 tells us that love comes from God.
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7 NLT
Jesus said to “Love one another…..AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” The key in all of these scriptures is in receiving love from God. We are to immerse ourselves in His love and the more we are immersed in His love, the more love we will have for others.
If we are struggling to love others, then we are not fully consumed with God.
Recently I heard a testimony from a man who got radically saved from a life of drugs. He talks of being a very angry young man, but after his encounter with God the hate left him. Someone asked him, how did you truly know you were saved? He said, “I saw a man crossing the road and instead of wanting to hit him, I wanted to love him.”
Love should be a testimony of our faith.
“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.” 1 John 4:12-13 NLT
Perhaps for some of you your first challenge is to accept and receive God’s love for you.
“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvellous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.” 1 John 3:1 (TPT)
Recognise that you are His child and He loves you, He adores you, He gave His life for you!
Secondly, you need to love yourself. Perhaps some of us struggle with this concept but it is crucial we love and accept ourselves. You are God’s creation and by hating or loathing yourself you are saying, you don’t like what God has created.
“You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvellously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skilfully shaping me from nothing to something.
You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book.
Every single moment you are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore!” Psalm 139:13-18 (TPT)
If you can’t love yourself, how can you love others? God wants to saturate you with His love.
Finally, we need to immerse ourselves in God. All-in with Jesus! We should be one with Him.
“God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” 1 John 4: 16-17
When there is more of Him, there will be less of us.
“I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts. 10 If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. 11 My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!” John 16:9-17 (TPT)
In our humanity we can not love as God commands us to, but when we abide in Him and He in us, that love will fill us and overflow through us.
We are God’s representatives on the earth and His desire is to emanate in us and through us for the world to know and experience His amazing and outrageous love for all of mankind.