Abide in My Love
Love is something that many have on their minds in the month of February. Such thoughts may cause one to read the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians for instruction on proper love. Even though that chapter is great for its discussion on love, there is a less-known one that also teaches us some key ideas about the topic. It is John chapter fifteen.
Jesus refers to His Father throughout the first half of the chapter. In verse nine the Christ explicitly says that His Father loves Him. The verse begins by saying, "As the Father Hath loved me..." But what about the second half? Let us not ignore it, for it reads, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." Jesus' disciples are instructed to continue in His love. That seems clear enough. But doesn't that indicate at least one other thing? Is it possible to not continue in His love? It would be a waste of His time to encourage us to do something that we can't fail to do.
The next verse tells us how to continue in that love. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:10) This teaches us not only how to continue in Jesus' love, but one other detail as well. We continue in the love of Jesus by keeping His commandments, and we dwell, or abide, in His love by doing so. It is clear that God loves all people by the fact that Jesus died for the sin of the world. But verse ten seems to indicate that there is a place where we as children of God abide in the love of Jesus and the Father.
Both verses twelve and seventeen further develop the idea of keeping commandments. These say, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." and also "These things I command you, that ye love one another." This may be a little confusing to some readers. Are we to love one another romantically? Are we to love one another on a superficial level but secretly dislike each other? Of course not. We are not to love as the world does. Instead, we are to love as Jesus did (John 15:12). This will involve some difficult choices on our part. We will have to choose between keeping quiet, or speaking to someone about a sin they may be doing. Sometimes we will tell a person something they don't want to hear because they need to hear it. Other times we will have to humble ourselves, recognize that we have wronged a brother, and repair that situation. Maybe we will be on the receiving end of such statements. It would be necessary to receive that person in mercy and grace, accept their confession, and forgive them. Finally, some will do the ultimate act of love. That being, sacrificing oneself for the brethren. The Lord speaks about this possibility in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." We know that Jesus laid down his life for the world, and if we are called to die for one another, then we should be ready to do so.