Jesus Christ gave His disciples important, last-minute teachings on the day before He died. One of these was about the love He wanted them to show others. John records it in 13:34- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” NKJV. We all would like to carry out this command. It’s a natural response to the perfect love He has poured out on us. But is it even possible to love in the same way Jesus loves?
He wouldn’t have given us this directive if it were impossible. And He left us with the tools to love as He did. Let’s dig in!
Jesus Teaching on Love
When the religious leaders tested Jesus for the greatest commandment, He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.
To love like Jesus begins with loving Him, our creator and living personal God, first.
How do we do this?
♥With all your heart: being devoted to Him in all aspects of your life.
Loving Jesus with all your heart means you choose, regardless of your feelings, to place your life in His hands. It means you surrender and trust yourself to Him and His ways.
♥With all your soul: not an emotional love, but your “core”- the deepest part of you.
When God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, Genesis 2:7 says, “and the man became a living being.” I checked out the Blue Letter Bible on this verse, and the Hebrew word for “living being” is SOUL.
Loving God with all your soul means connecting with and being deeply rooted in the God who formed you.
♥With all your mind: reading His word, seeking to understand it, learn from it, living it. It’s an important component to being connected, rooted and being able to trust in Him completely.
Jesus is asking us to love Him with our entire person; in every thought and act. He gave Himself up for us because of His great love and the desire to give us eternal life.
Hmmm, this is where I begin to squirm. This sounds difficult… But keep reading…
Loving Others as God Loves Us
His second commandment tells us to love others as we love ourselves.
What does that mean?
Plain and simple, Jesus wants us to have a genuine concern for the welfare of others as much as we do for ourselves.
How to Love Others
Loving our neighbor means living out all the attributes Paul lays out for us in his famous “Love Verses” in 1 Corinthians 13: patience, kindness, love without envy or boasting or pride.
Our love should never be rude or demanding our own way; it’s not irritable.
There is no record keeping of wrongs done against us. Love rejoices in the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres through any circumstance.
Well, I know I definitely fail in this department… but He’s not done yet…
Love Your Enemy
Jesus also asks us to turn the other cheek and not to seek retaliation. This was a radical teaching for the early Christians, and we still bristle today at loving our enemies. But He makes it clear:
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44.
Why should we love our enemies?
Because He asks us to. We show the love of Jesus when we treat our enemies with kindness, blessings, and prayer.
We are His ambassadors, showing the practical qualities of His love. His is the ideal model of love with the purpose of changing hearts.
Jesus faced many evil people in His life on earth. But He didn’t allow them to sidetrack His ministry. He responded with truth, kindness, and love.
The Greek word “love” in this verse love is agape- a sacrificial love that’s not just a warm feeling/emotion, but putting the needs of others above our own.
Jesus speaks of this kind of love to His disciples:
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.
We are to love each other using Jesus’ model of love. He loved us so much that He gave up His own life for us.
We don’t have to die for someone, but our love must be sacrificial; it must cost us something. He wants us to go the extra mile to love others.
Am I making you feel any better about this command to love yet? Because I’m thinking it’s sounding more and more impossible as I write each sentence!
If you’re thinking the same, you are right.
It is impossible for us. Our human nature and natural inclinations get in the way.
We judge other’s faults and can act selfish and spiteful. We remember hurtful words and actions and can harbor resentment.
Even with our best efforts to love like Jesus, we fail.
Jesus knew this, and He generously provides us the key to our problem and some encouragement-
“With man, this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27.
The power to accomplish the impossible comes only from God.
The Power to Love Like Jesus
We need the power of God to love as He does. And not only did He give us this power; He settled it deep into our soul. His Holy Spirit living within us is HIS power for us to use.
His power will work proportionally in our lives. Here’s how:
As we allow Him to live in us, guiding and convicting us, He provides the strength and power to help us fulfill His love commandments.
“For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
How To Love Like Jesus
Start with prayer!
•Jesus’ brand of love was extravagant and sacrificial. Pray for the ability to love, expecting nothing in return.
•Jesus loved, respected, and valued all– especially the poor, outcasts, sick and disabled. Pray to see each person you meet as one made in the image of God.
•Jesus had great compassion for the suffering ones He encountered. Pray for a compassionate heart filled with His love so we can give it to others.
•Jesus was humble, patient, and gentle. Pray to express the Fruit of the Spirit in your life as He leads you.
As we work at cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, He will give us the loving heart and mind for others that He has.
He will train us to see others with His eyes and perspectives. We will see the value that God places on them and not depend on our feelings or judgments.
•Jesus modeled grace and mercy for us. Pray for a heart that does not leap to judgments.
Love in Action
Jesus sets the bar on love awfully high, doesn’t He? To “walk in love” like Jesus takes more than good intentions.
♥It requires action and commitment. Underneath it all, we need the desire and motivation to love like Him.
♥Sometimes we have to walk outside our comfort zone and forego our own interest to show Jesus’ love.
♥Try to be mindful and look for opportunities to show His love in your daily life. There are so many in this hurting world that need His extraordinary love.
♥Look for ways to connect with people, even in small ways.
♥We will fail at following Jesus’ example- that’s a given. Pick yourself up and start again. He can make us new every day, and He desires to do so!
♥When I know I will be in a heavy situation or be in contact with a difficult person, I pray beforehand for the strength to show them the love of God.
Beyond obedience, desire, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit comes action and commitment to loving others like Jesus.
How do we show the love of Jesus?
I’ve compiled a list of practical ways to show Christ’s love in the words you speak, through service and gratitude, and to your family, neighbor, your workplace, and the world!
Let me know of ways you’ve followed Jesus’ example and I’d love to add them to this list!
Bible Verses about Love
♥“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14. This was Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth. We should follow the same instruction.
♥“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 NLT. How clearly do your actions show you truly love others?
♥“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. This explains where our capacity to love comes from. God’s love for us produces the spark that kindles the flame of love in our hearts.
♥“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8. Deep love covers over silly annoyances and deep resentments. Without love, conflicts arise and escalate.
♥“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1. We are a part of God’s family; His beloved children! This should encourage us to love others!
♥“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. This sums up the message of the gospel and shows His pattern of true sacrificial love.
I join with Paul to pray this verse over you:
♥“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17b-18.
Blessings of love,
Photo Credit: AnnMarie Anderson, Canva