The N.T. is filled with “one another” commands – also called “reciprocal commands.” These commands instruct us on how we should relate to the body of Christ.
The command to love one another is mentioned 17x in the N.T. (John 13:8, 34-35; 15:12, 17; Rom 12:10; 13:8; I Thess 3:12; 4:9; I Pet 1:22; 4:8; I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; II John 5).
The foundational virtue of Christianity and summary of our entire Christian responsibility is love (Matt 22:34-39) and all of what we seek to accomplish in the Christian life is meaningless without biblical love (I Cor 13:1-3). Even Jesus adds that our love for one another is meant to be one of the church’s most powerful tools for evangelism (John 13:34-35). Francis Schaeffer called it “the final apologetic.”
So can we best exemplify our love for each other? Here are some practical suggestions.
First, meditate on the love of God. If God is the source of all love, we ought to seek to understand how He loves, as much as we are able. It ought to be our desire to seek to understand the immeasurable love of God that surpasses all knowledge (Eph 3:18-19).
Second, show preference to others. Love is more concerned with what I can give than what I can get. Jesus set the example of humble love in the incarnation that eventually led Him to the cross (Phil 2:5-11).
Third, do not neglect to meet with other believers. The Bible says the purpose of our gatherings (e.g., services, small groups, prayer meetings, meals) is to stir up each other to love and good works (Heb 10:24-25). The local church is a laboratory for our love; it enables us to grow and mature it in the way Christ desires.
Fourth, identify those in your life toward whom you need to be more loving. Maybe it’s a family member or a co-worker or a neighbor or someone you attend church with. Target those people and make plans for how you are going to be more loving to them.
Fifth, love the “unlovely.” This is a hard one, but Jesus certainly set the standard for us here. Jesus was called the “friend of sinners” because he loved the unlovely (e.g., the socially awkward, the outcast, etc.). Find someone in your sphere of influence who doesn’t have the most friends and become their friend.
Sixth, serve as often as you can. Be one of the first to volunteer to serve the body of Christ when needs arise. Being a servant helps create in us a mindset of living for others and not ourselves, which is the heart of what it means to love others as God loves.
Seventh, practice the “one anothers.” The command to love one another is an “umbrella command.” This means it is a heading for all other “one anothers” in the Bible The most thorough “how to” we can recommend for how to love one another is to serve one another (Gal 5:13; 6:2), bear with one another (Eph 4:2, 9-10, 25, 32; 5:19, 21), prefer one another (Phil 2:3), speak truth and do not lie to one another (Col 3:9, 12-13, 16), encourage one another (I Thess 4:18; 5:11, 13, 15), exhort one another (Heb 3:13; 10:24-25), confess your sins to one another (Jas 5:16), and pray for one another (Jas 5:16).
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