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Most folks recognize the importance of loving others. The question is: in what manner should we love others? The point is especially important for those who are Christians. This week, let's meditate on the truth that we ought to love one another as Christ has loved us.
If anybody might be expected to demonstrate an exceptional quality of love, should it not be those who claim to be the people of Jesus Christ? Too often, however, we demonstrate something other than that. At times, we find ourselves tending toward self-righteousness and disdain for those who are "sinners." On one occasion, Jesus was in the home of a Pharisee named Simon. This man was critical of Jesus for allowing a woman with a sinful reputation to kiss his feet and anoint them with fragrant oil. So Jesus asked Simon, "A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" (Lk. 7:41,42). Concerning this woman's love for him, Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven -- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Lk. 7:47). We need to work on eliminating from our hearts the problem the Lord discussed with Simon.
Loving others as Christ has loved us is never more important than when we need to forgive others. The matter is put plainly in Mt. 18:21-35, where Jesus told the story of a servant who was forgiven a gigantic debt by his king but refused to forgive a much smaller debt owed to him by a fellow servant. In condemning this servant to prison, the king asked, "Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" (Mt. 18:33). If we do not forgive others, God will not be willing to forgive our sins against Him (Mt. 6:14,15).
Christians are to share a special love and a unique devotion for each another. Let's think about the relationship we should have as those who are in the Lord. Especially since we have a responsibility to evangelize the community in which we live, we need to remember what the Lord said about the effect believers' love for one another can have on those who are not yet believers: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn. 13:35).
Monday: 1 John 4:7-12
Key Idea: God is love.
Questions for Family Growth: What does the word "love" mean as it is used in the New Testament? What does it mean that "God is love"? How is this different from saying that "love is God"? Can we be like God without being people of love?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 22:5.
Tuesday: John 13:34,35
Key Idea: Jesus commanded us to love one another.
Questions for Family Growth: Since love is as old as the world, what was "new" about Jesus' command for His disciples to love one another? What did Jesus say people would know if His disciples loved one another?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 22:6.
Wednesday: 1 John 2:9-11
Key Idea: If we do not love one another, we are in darkness.
Questions for Family Growth: What are the "darkness" and the "light" that are spoken of in this passage? What things might we be able to tell about a person's relationship with God by observing his relationship with fellow Christians?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 22:7.
Thursday: 1 John 3:16-18
Key Idea: If we love one another, we will make sacrifices for one another.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Jesus do that showed His love for us? Should we be willing to go this far for one another? Other than this, what things should we be willing to sacrifice? How should we love one another: in "word" or in "deed"? What is the difference?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 22:8.
Friday: 1 John 4:20-5:2
Key Idea: If we love God, we will love God's family.
Questions for Family Growth: What is said about the person who says he loves God but does not love his fellow Christians? In 4:20, in what sense is it easier to love our fellow Christians than it is to love God Himself?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 22:9.