Matthew 22:36-40, John 13:34-35, John 15:12-13
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Before we can truly understand how to disciple and invest in others, I think it’s important that we learn how to love and forgive. If you look at John 13:34-35, Jesus talks about our call to love three times in that short little 2 verses. As I was thinking about what it means to be a true disciple of Christ, the commandment to love one another kept popping off of the pages of my bible. Jesus says to love each other "as I have loved you." When I think about how much Jesus loves us, it makes me search my own heart to see if I am as loving toward others I am called to be as a result of this Scripture.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Thinking back over the last couple of years during my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, I remember all of the love, support and encouragement that I received from family, friends and even those I barely knew and some I didn't know at all. It was amazing to see friendship lived out in its true-est form when going through such a difficult season. It made me more aware of my own call to sacrificial love and discipleship toward others. Jesus showed the ultimate act of love to us on the cross when we certainly didn’t deserve it - so why is it hard for us sometimes? What gets in our way?
Working in the weight loss industry for 17 years taught me many things about life and most of all about people. The two most significant things I learned were that we all cope with life in different ways and we all desire to be loved. On the flip side of that, I also learned that as Christians, we can be some of the most judgmental people on earth in the quest to love and disciple others. I have met many, many people over the years who had heartbreaking events happen in their lives and were severely judged for how they chose to deal with it. Years of supporting others in their weight loss journey helped the Lord mold my heart and He taught me so much about the ability to love others in the midst of the “mess” we call life. That is true discipleship.
Another aspect of "loving our neighbor" is forgiveness. We will all struggle with forgiving someone at some point in our lives. Matthew 18:35, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Is it always easy? No! But, grace is a choice and a great testimony of God's love.
Judgement and lack of forgiveness gets in our way sometimes as Christians in our pursuit to show love. My challenge to myself and to you is Matthew 22:36-40, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets.” Let’s strive to keep God first and love Him with everything in us, which is His very first commandment and secondly show love to others, "on these two commandments hang all the law". This Scripture really is the precursor that propels us forward to fulfill our call to discipleship.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou)