The emotional side of love can be a runaway train. By itself, this kind of love can be fragile and unstable. Emotional love can lead to foolish acts designed to attract attention, to nervousness, or to unfounded jealously. However, true and abiding love is grounded in a commitment that goes beyond the emotions to withstand both triumph and tragedy.
Abiding love is what lies at the heart of the Christian life. When questioned about the greatest commandment, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.... (And) love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31).
In the Gospel of John, love is the basis by which we attract others to the Gospel. Jesus said, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).
The relationships we develop with fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have far greater meaning and depth than we are able to comprehend with our finite minds. When we understand the eternal longevity of godly relationships, then we will cherish and value these relationships even more — and they will enhance our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Whether they are romantic or platonic-godly relationships are based on a joint love for Christ and a desire to obey the Word of God. In John 15:14, Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command." When you have deep friendships with other believers, they are able to encourage you to be obedient to the call of God in your life.
In verse 15 of this chapter, Jesus continued, "I no longer call you servants.... Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Think about this — if the God of glory shared His life with His friends, then who are we to refuse to do the same? When we share our lives, we can spur each other on in our walk with Christ. As we read in Scripture: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).
In verses 16 and 17 of John 15, Jesus said: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.... This is my command: Love each other." When Jesus called us friends, He initiated choosing us, and He's saying here, you do the same. Follow my example. Love one another.
So if the greatest commandment is love, then how is love defined? In 1 John 3:16 we read, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." Scripture also says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
We must base our godly relationships on this kind of love — a love that gives.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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