In the Old Testament God gave His people the Command to love one another (Leviticus 19:18). On the evening of His final Passover Jesus gave His disciples a very similar charge, but He called it a “New Commandment.” What did Jesus mean when He said, “A New Commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34)? What was so special and new about this instruction? The answer lies in one little word, “as.” Jesus said, “as I have loved you.” So we need to ask ourselves how did He demonstrate His love for us? It is imperative that we know the answer because that is how we are required to love others. Jesus said:
John 15:10 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.
But, here is what so many overlook... Here is where so many make a wrong assumption... They assume that they already abide in the love of Christ. Jesus is saying that we are to possess and retain the same love that He and the Father have for each other. That is the same Godly love as He and the Father hold for us. Do we have the same love God the Father and Jesus share? In today's sermon we will answer the question, “How is the love of God perfected in us?”
A man must be conquered by God. He must willingly yield his will to that of God. He must always choose God’s righteous way over his own personal desires and will. In that way, one becomes “like” God. He is obliged to learn what it means to “lay down his life,” just as Jesus did, and then daily and continuously do so (Romans 12:1). Christians are to be serving one another in the exact same way that Jesus loved us—by giving His all:
John 15:12-13 This is my Commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you [Jesus died for us]. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John clarifies the matter:
1John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we are obligated to lay down our lives for the brethren.
What does that mean? Are we expected to follow in His steps when it comes to life and death? How many even know what that means to lay down their lives?
Matthew 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
That is a very stringent tenet for a Christian – the willingness to serve others to the point of laying down their life in self-sacrifice as Jesus did. Jesus laid down His life, and a Christian must do likewise. That message is not to be soft-pedaled, played down, or de-emphasized. God calls only those He knows will be able to live up to His high standards. As God's children, we must be laying down our lives to help bring about unification in attitude, direction, and fellowship of the brethren. That is Jesus’ example for us to follow:
John 13:15 I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
In the same way that we want to be clean before God, He requires us to help other brethren be clean before God in our common spiritual quest of His Kingdom. Jesus laid His life down for us, so we must lay our lives down for others – but how do we do that? When a brother or sister has strayed and allowed a serious sin to enter their life – we must serve them by going to their spiritual rescue, no matter what it takes – that is laying down our life for them (James 5:19-20; Galatians 6:1-2).
Those are perfect examples of the spiritual application of the Footwashing. We, therefore, must wash the feet of one another. Not only must we have an attitude of being willing to lay our life down for others, we must actively intervene in their lives whenever they go astray so that they may enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave and gave until He gave His all so that we might attain to eternal life. How did Jesus love us—He lay down His life for us.
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have [the same kind of] love one for another.
If we are unwilling to lay our lives down for the sake of the brethren, we walk in darkness, and are not cleansed from all sin. The more we give of ourselves – the more like Jesus we become. It is not about money; it is about giving of ourselves – our empathy, our emotions, our love, our time our caring, our being, our attitudes, our outgoing concern for others. A converted Christian frequently makes sacrifices. He lays his life down every day – sometimes, many times a day – and at great personal cost. He turns the other cheek; he forgives, and lets a matter drop; he is patient with the impatient, the list is endless. The more we give of ourselves, the more we are like God. Laying our life down, will, in the course of one’s life, call for major sacrifices to be made in order to preserve the truth of God, or require that we defend a brother who has been falsely maligned. That great sacrifice may cost one his livelihood or status in the congregation or community. But, making that great sacrifice is how we become followers of Christ. Jesus served us by dying for us. He ‘put it all on the line for us.’
||"The Perfect Word of God"