John 13:34-35 says, “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.” A church unified in Spirit and in doctrine, where the brethren love each other as Christ loves them, is a force to be reckoned with. A body where this commandment is practiced in truth is ripe for revival, and Holy Spirit power will be manifested. On the contrary, when there is division, strife, pettiness, fault-finding, back-biting, disunity, and lack of love - the welcome mat is laid out for Satan to bring destruction. Let us strive to walk in love and unity in the Body of Christ.
We see first of all, that loving our fellow Christian is a commandment - not a suggestion (Jn 15:12, 17, 1Pt 2:17, 1Tim 1:5, Heb 13:1, 1Jn 4:21). True love expresses itself in the absence of emotion. You may at times feel like loving your brethren, and at other times you may not feel like it. However, The Lord’s commandment remains the same - love your Brother. Jesus calls it a new commandment, not because it wasn’t mentioned under the law (Lev 19:18), but because it has become the chief commandment which trumps all others (1Cor 13:13, 1Pt 4:8, Col 3:14).
While there exist many fruits whereby one can be labeled a disciple, Jesus makes clear that this demonstration of pure love among the church is the chief way by which the world will know that we are His (Jn 13:35). This is also the evidence by which we know we have passed from death to life (1Jn 3:14). How sad it is in the Body of Christ that we have often put a premium on unimportant things, and have forsaken or put little emphasis on brotherly love. No doubt Doctrine is very important - but not at the expense of Love (Rev 2:1-7).
Brotherly love is the Royal Law, and we do well to practice it: but if we pick and choose who we are going to love, we commit sin according to God (Jam 2:8-9). If you claim to be in the light, and yet hate your Brother; you are in darkness (1Jn 2:9-10). If you say you love God, but yet hate your Brother; you are a liar (1Jn 4:20). These are strong words from our Lord and His Apostles that we should heed with all our heart.
This Royal Law fulfills the Law of Moses (Gal 5:13-14, Rom 13:8-10). One who truly loves the Brethren has fulfilled the law. Many Christians are caught up with things of the law such as feasts, Sabbaths, diets, etc. - when the Bible makes clear that the Great commandment of Loving God and loving the Brethren fulfills the whole thing! We often major on minors and minor on majors - as the Pharisees did. God forgive us.
We should have kind affection for each other in brotherly love (Rom 12:9-10). We must put all bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking, and the like, away from us. We should rather be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving towards each other - in the same manner that God is towards us for Christ’s sake (Eph 4:31-5:2). The indwelling Holy Spirit already teaches us these things, but we should seek to increase in our love towards each other more and more (1Thess 4:9-10, 2Pt 1:5-8). Be not content with merely tolerating your Brother, but rather love him with all your heart. Look for the good in him. Don’t be a fault-finder, but instead be a Christ-finder.
Let us love one another from a pure heart fervently, passionately, and intensely (1Pt 1:22-23, 1Cor 14:1). This should be a chief pursuit in our Christian lives. God’s love has been shed far and wide in our hearts by The Holy Spirit, so we therefore have the capacity and ability to love as God loves (Rom 5:5). Because we have been set at liberty to truly love, we need not be our Brother’s judge and jury. Before his own Master does he stand or fall. We are called to love, not judge. Of course we are to judge righteous judgment - whether or not an action or belief is good, Godly, righteous, or truthful based on God’s Word. But we are not to judge the person, their heart, their motives, or their eternal state or standing with God - for this is God’s business alone. We are to sow seed, encourage, exhort, edify, correct, speak truth - and chiefly - love. The rest God takes care of.
Let the Brethren be of one mind, compassionate, loving, full of pity, courteous; not returning evil for evil, or slander for slander - but let us instead bless others. This is what we are called to. We will inherit a blessing and love life and see good days if we will avoid evil and be peacemakers (1Pt 3:8-11). Be in unity. Stand with each other. Love each other with all your heart. This will be the church on fire. This will be the world-changing church. Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!