John 13:34 (ESV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Love is not defined by how we feel, but by Jesus. That so, love is being committed to and working for the good of another, even at great cost to ourselves; it’s being sacrificially committed to the good of another just as Christ was committed to our good. And Jesus calls us all to be committed to His people this way. Committing ourselves this way is a little scary. It’s not only a lot to live up to, but living this way means we are putting Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last. We are dying to ourselves, our wants, our desires, even many of our needs for the glory of Christ and the good of His people. But, it’s worth it. When we (the church) love this way, even though we are in a sense neglecting ourselves because we are so committed to the good of others, others are stepping in and loving us well so that we are taken care of too. Though we’re dying to self, we’re working for the good of one another. By good here I mean helping others come to know, love, and follow Jesus, and grow in those things. And as Paul says in Ephesians 4:16, “when each part is working properly, [it] makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (ESV). So, all of this works for our good and the glory of God; that’s why it’s worth it…
But, let’s be honest; the church is full of sinners—repentant sinners, but still sinners… How often is everything working properly? Hardly ever… We are humans who still struggle with sins like selfishness everyday. That being the case, there will often be times that we don’t feel like we are being loved properly by the church. But we must remember, that’s not why we love. Our love is to be gospel-love. We are called to love like Jesus, and Jesus loved us when we were incapable of loving Him back. He loved us when we wanted nothing to do with Him.
The motivation for our love for others doesn’t come from how we are loved in return, but how we have already been loved in Christ. As it says in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us” (ESV). Our love for Jesus and our love for people flow from the love that Jesus has already shown us in the gospel. We don’t love to get love in return. We love because we have already been loved more than we are even capable of loving. So, give yourself over to loving the church as Jesus commands, for the glory of God and the good of God’s people…
I am nothing; Christ is all!