We all have those people in our lives who do and say things that make loving them difficult. But in light of eternity, I need to ask myself if when I choose not to love and serve others, even those who are difficult, am I choosing my pride over what my Lord has said? His words tell me to follow Him and do what He did; to die to myself and my desires and trade them in for walking as He did. “Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'” (Matt 16:24-25)
We know we have a High Priest who understands our weaknesses, who calls us to enter His rest. We know He also faced dread about what faced Him, and prayed for God’s will not His own. As Jesus faced His upcoming crucifixion, He shared His new commandment with His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35)
Jesus, who laid down His life out of His love for us, tells us to love so that others will know we belong to Him. John expands on this: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:16-19)
When we, by faith, accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He placed His Spirit within our spirit. By loving others we become like Jesus, thereby “His love has been perfected among us”. We need not fear (1 Jn 4:18), but enjoy God’s love and live it out in serving others, just like Jesus did. Jesus lived among those He served, taught them, prayed for them, served them, and ultimately gave His life for others, leaving a powerful example for our own lives.
At the end of life in this body, there will be an accounting. We must all stand before the Lord our Maker, whether we are Christians or non-Christians. Regardless of the type of relationship we have with Him, we must all come face to face with the Lord Himself. He stands at the end of every path we may be taking today, and we must come at last to a day of accounting. John tells us that if we love as Jesus commands, we will be able to stand before Him with confidence. “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (v 17)
“As He is, so are we in this world” doesn’t tell us to love and serve those who love us and are kind to us. In fact God’s Word says, “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 Jn 4:20-21) It doesn’t say love your brother if your brother is good to you. It just says no matter what, we have to love as Jesus did.
We need look no further than how Jesus showed how to love and serve one another, even His disciple He knew would betray Him (John 13:1-17). After He washed their feet He said, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)
Our Master, Jesus, loved and served even the one he knew who would betray Him. This tells me that if indeed I take up my cross and follow Him, I don’t get to pick and choose to whom I will show love because as His servant, I am not greater than my Master. His words are clear: “he who loves God must love his brother also”. Today those words tell me that no matter what difficult people I encounter, my only choice as the Lord’s servant is to love and serve everyone, in whatever opportunities arise today. I don’t have a right to choose to be offended by others; my response is to be like Jesus, and love others no matter what.
Jesus spoke about the Day of Judgment: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” (Matt 25:31-36)
He made it clear that when we love and serve others, we are serving Him: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (v40). Therefore, is there not a question in each heart now: “When I stand before Him like that, will I pass the test? Am I recognizing these situations now?” John says it is love that is perfected in Christ that is made visible in deeds. John is saying that if we want to have confidence in the day of judgment, then we should let love be perfected in Christ and express itself, because when love is perfected within us then we will have confidence for the day of judgment.
Father, don’t let me take these words lightly. When I struggle to love others and fail to seek ways to make Your love visible, I know the problem is not others, but mine. It is in my pride that I think about myself before others and become unwilling to show love to those who don’t do the things I like and do not act the way I think they ought to act. Lord, help me to realize that it is I who don’t do the things that You want and act the way that You want me to act when I become an unwilling vessel. Lord, thank You for yesterday’s reminder that it is Your will I seek, not my own. Father, forgive me when I fail, and continue to teach me to love. Thank You for the perfecting work You are doing in me now, so that I can love as You did, even those who betrayed You. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.