When Love Abides

KEY VERSE: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” —John 15:12


OUR LOVE FOR one another is to be the same kind of love—and to operate under similar conditions—as Jesus’ love for us. When we take this into consideration the whole viewpoint of that new commandment is broadened considerably, for divine love through Christ was exercised on our behalf while we were yet sinners, that is, long before we were in a position to love him.—Rom. 5:8

The divine plan for the followers of Jesus, whereby they would have the privilege of exercising love for one another upon the same basis as Jesus loves them, is outlined by the Master himself in his command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel for the purpose of making disciples. These disciples, who are to be ‘made’ through the ministry of the truth, are our brethren, brethren for whom we have the privilege of sacrificing while they are still sinners, even as Jesus thus laid down his life for us.

Not only did Jesus lay down his life for us while we were yet sinners, but his love continues after we hear and accept the call to follow in his steps, and this despite the many imperfections which continue with us, imperfections which cause us so many times to transgress the laws of righteousness. Thus, if we love one another as he loved us, it means that we will have a love which will manifest itself for the good of our brethren regardless of the many things about them which may not be pleasing to us—imperfections which may indeed be a real trial to us.

In this connection we are again reminded of the Master’s assertion that if we love only those who love us, our love is not of a very high order, being merely on the level of the publicans’ love. The expression, ‘those who love us’, might well be broadened to mean those who are congenial to us, those whose ways of life do not irritate or vex us. These are easy to love, and it is a pleasure to serve them. To love those among the brethren who are in this category is not, therefore, the final test of loving one another as Jesus loved us.

The quality of love which reached out for our salvation while we were yet sinners Is that superlative expression of unselfishness which we will need in order to lay down our lives for the brethren, to love them as Jesus loved us—that is, if we are to love all the brethren and not merely those who take a special interest in us, or those whose company and association we especially enjoy. It is this quality of love that covers a multitude of sins; that helps us to judge our brethren, not according to their outward appearance but according to their hearts; that extends mercy when they fall, and a helping hand in their weakness.

Brotherly love—that great principle of unselfishness which each member of the body of Christ exercises toward every other member of the body—is the motive power back of all true Christian activity. It is a principle which must find expression in service if it is to remain alive. The body of Christ is a cooperative arrangement for active service in the outworking of the divine plan. That this is true is clearly shown by Paul in his lesson, found in I Corinthians 12.

In this remarkable chapter the apostle emphasizes that there Is given to each member of the body some special function of service, and that these all combine to accomplish the Lord’s will. One member cannot truthfully say to another, I have no need for you; nor can any true member of the body say to himself, There is no service that I need to render.

Activity, well-organized and ceaseless, is one of the lessons of the ‘body’ illustration. And it is only in connection with this true Christian activity that brotherly love has an opportunity to function. Let us never think of brotherly love as being manifested merely in kindliness of manner, or as a lofty platitude to be talked about from the platform. No, brethren, God has set every member in the body as it has pleased him, and his purpose in giving us a place in the body at all is that we may actively function in whatever capacity he indicates his will for us.

Paul follows up his lesson on the active functioning of the body of Christ with the warning that without love as the motive, nothing we might do would have the Lord’s approval. In other words, we are not to think that all the Lord is looking for in his people is that they be continually engaged in a frenzy of activity. God wants us to be active, but he wants us to be motivated in what we do by brotherly love.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,” writes the Apostle Paul, “and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”—I Cor. 13:1

Dawn Bible Students Association
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