I hope you’ve been following along with this whole series as we’ve been learning all about a new way to love, which Jesus brought onto the scene when He came to earth as our Messiah and Lord. He called His church to a standard of love that is frankly impossible for any human who is trying to do it in his own strength. We just aren’t wired to love that way.
Nonetheless, we ARE called to live out this love because Jesus changes everything! We’re called to a new way to love that depends on the power of God to work through us and teach us how to love like Jesus.
So that’s what we’re trying to learn today as we close out the series. We want to get really practical and talk about what loving like Jesus is actually going to look like fleshed out in our day-to-day lives. How do we sacrificially love the brothers and sisters in Christ who hurt and betray us? How do we love our neighbor as ourselves when life gets hard and we barely have the energy to keep our own life on track? What did Jesus really mean when He said, “love as I have loved you”?
What does it mean to love like Jesus?
Love as I Have Loved You – How to Love Like Jesus
Last week we talked about Jesus’ teaching on love and His new commandment to love each other (our fellow believers) like He loved us. We learned exactly what the love of Christ looks like, and what motivated His love, so that we can know what it is we’re trying to emulate. It really is a new way to love!
Look again with me at what Jesus says along with the command in John 15.
John 15:9-12 – I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
If you remember, last week we learned how Jesus’ sacrificial love for us was motivated by His obedience to the Father. Here, Jesus tells us in order to love like He loved, we’re going to have to remain in His love, just as He remained in His Father’s love. We have to learn how to dwell right in the middle of His love, to abide in it, so that it will motivate everything we do.
And how does He say we remain in His love? Through obedience.
In other words, it was the shared love between the persons of the Trinity that ensured Jesus’ obedience to His Father. The fact that Jesus could abide in that love empowered His obedience, and His obedience was HOW he was able to abide in that love. It’s an interlocked cycle:
The Father’s love inspired Jesus’ obedience —> Jesus’ obedience allowed Him to abide in the Father’s love —> The Father’s love inspired Jesus’ obedience —> Jesus’ obedience allowed Him to abide in the Father’s love, and so on…
It will be no different for us.
This may sound a little confusing, and not very practical, which is what I promised at the beginning of this post. Hang with me.
How Loving Jesus Changes Everything
John 14:15,16 & 21 – If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.
John 14:23-26 – Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
Do we love God? Do we live in obedience to what Jesus called the greatest commandment and love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength? As you can see in the verses above, the Bible teaches that the easiest way to answer that question is with the answer to this one: Are we willing to give up anything else in our lives if that’s what it takes to obey Him?
Friends, if I am being honest with you, I can’t answer yes to that question a lot of the time. I WANT to say yes. I am actively working to surrender myself more fully to Him every day. But the fact is my own pride often gets in the way of my obedience. The idol I have the hardest time giving up is self. For me, the cycle tends to look like this:
I find myself harboring bitterness towards my fellow believers —> that bitterness is rooted in pride (believing the sins of others outweigh my own) —> my pride is sin —> My sin keeps me from being obedient to God and loving the body of Christ the way He did —> That disobedience keeps me from abiding in the love of God —> Being internally disconnected from the love of God greatly diminishes my ability to obey God the next time. So when I find myself harboring bitterness in my heart toward a fellow believer it all starts over again.
But look again at the verses above. The good news for us is that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, who is available to lead us into all truth and teach us EVERYTHING!!! He can teach us how to love like Jesus by first teaching us how to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength! Which means, He can teach us how to live in obedience! In other words, the Holy Spirit is there to win the victory for us!
Will you take a minute with me to just offer up a “Hallelujah” to our great God who has already done all the work!!! This really is a new way to love, and it is all about how Jesus changes everything!!!
How to Love Like Jesus
I hope it is as freeing to you as it is to me to learn that victory is already ours! Learning how to love like Jesus is not about us. It’s not about the work we do. We can’t strive our way into this kind of love because it is a new kind of love.
1 John 4:7 & 12-13 – Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God… 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.
That’s it. Love comes from God. Learning how to love like Jesus means daily surrender to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit He has sent to live within us. Each day, we must be intentional about giving up ourselves and allowing Him to do His work through us. He’ll take care of the rest.
What Does it Mean to Love Like Jesus?
So we’ve covered the how. We know how to love like Jesus (through the power of the Holy Spirit), but what does it look like to live out that kind of love? If we’re called to a new way to love, does it mean we have to allow other Christians to walk all over us? Does it mean we have to bend to every whim and fancy of our brothers and sisters and spend our lives trying to people please?
We’ll look at some more verses that will help paint a picture of Christ-like love within the church here in a minute, but first let me ask you this: Based on what we know from the verses we’ve already studied about how to love like Jesus, did Jesus’ love for us cause Him to surrender to OUR will? Or was it obedience to the will of His Father that demonstrated His love for us?
The answer is, of course, that He gave Himself completely in obedience to His Father’s will. Our love, when it is mirroring the love of Christ, will not be as simple as sacrificially pleasing people. After all, that’s something we can pull off, at least to some degree, in our own strength. Plus, it isn’t actually helping anyone for us to live like that.
But to live in obedience to the Father’s will, which is always best for everyone, is different. It’s a new way to love, and it’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. This is how to love like Jesus, and it is what we’re called to in the family of God.
A New Way to Love
Of course, now the big question is, what IS the Father’s will when it comes to the love within the church? How does He ask us to demonstrate our love for one another? 1 Corinthians 13 (click to read) is always a great place to start when it comes to defining love, but beyond that very familiar passage, here are some other verses to answer our question:
Ephesians 4:2-4 – Always be humble and gently. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
Romans 12:9-10 – Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
1 John 3:16-19 -We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
1 Peter 4:8 – Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
Colossians 3:12-15 – Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from God rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Romans 13:10 – Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
The Qualities of Christ-Like Love
Let’s make it really simple to pull together. Let’s spell out plainly how to love like Jesus by making a list from the verses above. Here are some of the qualities of Christ-like love.
- When we love like Jesus we will never be proud, or boastful, but will always be humble. (Remember how we learned last time that He was willing to give up His position and rights for us?)
- We will never be jealous of God’s blessings upon others, but will genuinely rejoice with them.
- We will be gentle and patient with each other.
- We will never be rude, inappropriate, or crass with one another.
- We won’t keep score, or be irritable with one another but will be as quick to get past the little annoyances of others as we are to overlook our own.
- We will strive for peace and unity within the church. That means not making an issue out of things that aren’t really issues like our own preferences. We won’t demand our own way.
- We will hate sin, just as God does, and not turn a blind eye to the willful rebellion of our brothers and sisters.
- We will REJOICE when repentance happens, and be quick to forgive and move on.
- We will delight in honoring one another. That just means treating each other with great respect.
- We will be eager to share our superficial blessings and gifts (money, food, belongings, etc.) with one another.
- We will be eager to share our spiritual blessings and gifts (talents, service, insight, etc.) with one another.
- Our hearts will be soft for one another. We will be kind, and merciful (holding back what people deserve) in the way we treat each other.
- We will be quick to forgive.
- We will work towards harmony (many parts complimenting each other in a way that makes a beautiful whole) within the body.
- We will be thankful for one another.
- Our focus will be on the eternal peace we have been given with God, and it will quiet our need to always get our way here.
- We will NEVER intentionally do wrong to one another. No matter the offense. No matter the injustice. No matter what.
- We will never give up on each other, and never lose faith in God’s power to move our mountains.
- We will always be filled with hope for one another, and endure through any circumstance.
- Our love for one another will be unconditional, unmerited, and will never ever go away or fail! It is forever!
Friends, this is how to love like Jesus, and surely we can see, as we look over this list, that it is impossible for us to love like this. It’s not a love like anything we see in the world. It’s a new way to love, and it is only possible through the power of God in our lives.
Jesus Changes Everything
I know it can feel a little helpless. I look at that list and I feel a little helpless! I look at that list, and I know I am going to fail. I know my brothers and sisters in Christ are going to fail too. Even though I know the power to love like that is ours, I know we’re too broken on this side of eternity to claim that victory every single time. It will never happen here on earth.
So how can we not feel defeated and helpless? Can you relate?
But friends, that is the beauty of God’s love for us. Jesus changes everything, because His love for us is perfect. It doesn’t depend on our perfection, it depends on His perfection, and He IS perfect.
Our failure is already worked into the equation. It has already been forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ. And so have the failures of our brothers and sisters!
If we really want to know how to love like Jesus, we’ll start from there. We’ll start from our forgiveness and from His love for us. We’ll never make it about our perfection, or the perfection of our brothers and sisters. If we want to learn a new way to love, we’ll make it all about what Jesus has already done, and Jesus changes everything!!!
1 John 4:16-19 – We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. 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. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first.
It’s all about Jesus guys! He loves us, so let’s love each other.
1 Peter 1:22 – You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your hearts.
If you’ve missed any of the other parts of this series and would like to catch up, you can find the whole thing, along with resources to help you learn how to love like Jesus by clicking the image below.