“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34
Lord, did You really give a new commandment here? I mean, hadn’t you always told us that we were to love You and love others? If I pay attention to You, I see that even though there was no direct commandment in the Old Testament that said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” it was always implied. That’s why the specialist in Your Torah summed up all your commandments for us in one sentence. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” So it was there. This guy saw it. You said he was right on. Only, You urged him to do it, not just say it. You urged him to realize it in his life.
What did you mean by a “new” commandment? The Greek word for “new” here is “kainos.” “Kainos” refers to something that is “new in kind and in contrast to what previously existed.” (Omicron, T. Oliver). It seems to relate back to something former or earlier. It’s the word used in Revelation 21:1 to refer to “the new heaven and earth [superseding] the first.” It’s used in Hebrews 8:13 where in referring to the “new covenant, He has made the first old.” In Collosians 3:10 it is used of the renewal of the new man, by the power of You, Jesus, “excluding and supplanting the old…if contemplated as a new and specific kind in contrast to the old as outworn and effete and taking it’s place.”
So, it’s a new way at looking at the old commands. Nothing is abolished, it’s just being given in a light where we may now truly fulfill it. It’s the old commandment/new commandment dillema. It’s not new but it is new. It was always the intent but we didn’t get it. Then You came into the picture, God Himself, and showed us what it looked like in real life. You took the whole heart of Scripture, the heart of God and said, “Here it is in a nutshell. Look at me. This is love for God and this is love for others. Now, you’ve seen what it looks like. Do it.”
Now I’m coming to this new idea of love, this corrected version of love, straight from You. “Love one another; as I have loved you, you are to love one another.” And I love what John Piper had to share on this. “So loving others is the outward manifestation, the visible expression, the practical demonstration, and therefore the fulfillment of what the Old Testament is about. So there is a sense in which the second commandment (to love your neighbor) is the visible goal of the whole Word of God. It’s not as though loving God is not here, or that loving God is less important; rather loving God is made visible and manifest and fulfilled in our visibly, practically, sacrificially loving others. I think that is why the second commandment stands by itself when the New Testament says that love fulfills the law.”
You, Lord, said that by this “all men shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.” Everything hangs on this. It’s all hanging on my relationship to You. How I treat others is hanging on that relationship. John Piper continues to say “the Law and the Prophets are hanging on–depending on–something before them, namely, God’s passion that this world, this history of humankind, be a world of love to God and radical, other-oriented love to each other.”
So, what does that mean? What is Biblical love? How do I love as You have loved me?
In the Greek, there were four words for love, four kinds of love. There was “eros” which is the love between husband and wife, or passionate love. “Storge” referred to the love of a parent toward their child. “Philia” is brother love expressed in friendship. And “agape” expressed the highest love of the four, what we might call “true” love. According to Evlin M. Fendrianto, “agape” “is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.”
I won’t find “eros” or “storge” love used directly in the New Testament. They are referred to in the Old Testament and by analogy. They do have expression in the “gyst” of things in Your Word. It’s expressed in the marriage relationship and in our heavenly Father’s relationship. But these are natural types of love. It’s not something we need to learn. Any one can have uncontrollable passion. Look at the number of unwed mothers in the world. And it’s just natural to love your own child more than someone else’s child. Even “philia” love is natural. It’s easy to love a friend. It’s naturally reciprical.
But the love You chose for us to focus on today and in our lives is “agape.” This word “conveys the idea of a person giving all his or her love, or favor, to someone else other than one’s self. It is a love that is not earned; rather, it is relational and given freely… It is a love that gives without expectations, or a response from the other. It takes the initiative, as Christ did with us, and fosters the Fruit of the Spirit…real, authentic love, without pretensions or expectations (1 John 4:7-11). ” (Dr. Richard J. Krejcir) This is a love that desires “the welfare of others more than our own.”
How do I know love? I look at You. I must love others as You love me. How did You show Your love for me? You touched me while I was soiled in sin. You saw the new me inside just waiting to be set free. You walked with me when others saw nothing. You instructed me. You were sometimes hungry and without food for me. You sometimes slept who knows where for me. You suffered persecution for me. You modelled God for me. You showed me what true love and compassion looked like. You made a deliberate, conscious decision to commit to loving me and serving me and teaching me and investing Yourself in me. You thought of me first. You gave up everything for my benefit, for my good. You gave Your life for me. You rose again for me. And You’ve given Yourself to abide in me.
Love is patient and kind like You, regardless if the other party is patient or kind to me. Love does not envy or boast, even if there seems to be reason to do so. Love is not arrogant or rude, but like You, puts the other person first. Love does not insist on its own way, but like You, it submits to God’s way. Love is not irritable or resentful, but forgiving and welcoming, like You. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices in everything that represents Truth and Righteousness, everything that represents You. Love bears all things, even suffering. Love believes all things, everything that You have said. Love hopes all things for the joy set before us, just like You did. Love endures all things and overcomes just like You. Love never ends, no matter what anyone else does, because You are love and You are eternal. And if my love is conditional upon You, nothing else can effect it, because Your condition never changes. It’s who You are. And it’s who You want to be in me, if I’ll just seek You and let You.
Lord, I want to make a conscious, deliberate decision to love You and to love others like You have loved me. I want to touch others while they are soiled in sin. I want to see the new man inside them that is just waiting to be set free. I want to walk with them when others see nothing. I want to instruct them in You as You instruct me. I want to be hungry for their good. I want to be without a bed for their good. If it’s for their good, let me suffer for them. Let me model You for them. Let me demonstrate what true love and compassion look like as You flow from me. As I am fully invested in You, let me fully invest myself in others. Let me think of them first. Let me give up all for their benefit, for their good. You gave Your life for me. I want to give my life to You and be spent for them. Have Your way in me for their sake and teach and enable me to love others with Your love.