It’s Grace Gives this week, and many of you will be very busy! But I encourage you to chew on this verse throughout the week. The truth of this verse can give you strength to serve day by day:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34 ESV)
The Ten Commandments may be the most famous commandments in the entire Bible, but Jesus gave us a new commandment to surpass them all. Let’s break this verse down:
A new commandment I give to you — Two things I want to point out. First, Jesus is Lord. He is Master. He has authority over you. He is your Boss, your King. This is a commandment, not a suggestion. Second, this is a new commandment. What is this commandment, and why is it new? Well, read on…
that you love one another — We are to love one another. We are to care for each other. But this isn’t a “new” commandment, is it? After all, God commanded us to love our neighbors even in the Old Testament! What is new is the nature and source of this love, as we find out in the remainder of the verse.
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another — So what is new about Jesus’ command? First, it is new because we are commanded to love each other with the same love that He lavishes on us. This is a depth and power of love beyond anything we can imagine, and beyond anything we can experience apart from knowing Jesus. No one ever knew the full heights of love possible until Jesus came down to die for us, sacrificing His very honor and His very life for us while we were still enemies. No one will ever know a love greater than that! It is an all-encompassing love that fully engages our desires, thoughts, deeds, and emotions. It is an unconditional, sacrificial, pursuing love. It is a love that chases down others with kindness even when they hurt us. It is a love that relentlessly puts others and their needs first. So it is a new command because it is love held to the highest possible standard.
Second, it is new because our love is now sourced in His love. In other words, we can only love each other in a way that fulfills this command if we are drawing on His love — if we are in an intimate relationship with Him. We connect to Jesus’ love, and then we in turn take that love to others. When we feel tired at the end of a long day serving at Grace Gives, this is how we get up again in the morning and serve again: we continually return to the endless well of our Savior’s love.
QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH OTHER:
- How are you loving others like Jesus loves you? In other words, what is a way that you are putting others first this week?
- Why is Jesus’ love not merely our example but our source? This week, how are you connecting with God in order to love others?
QUESTIONS TO ASK CHILDREN:
- Think about a time when it was hard for you to love someone. Maybe your brother or sister or friend was mean to you, and it was hard for you to think nice thoughts about them. If they were mean to Jesus instead, how would He feel about them?
- Think about a lamp or a TV. If you don’t plug it in, it won’t turn on. In the same way, we can’t fully love each other if we don’t “plug in” to the love of Jesus. In other words, the more we hang out with God and think about how much He loves us, the more we can love each other. What are some things you do to help you remember how much He loves you?