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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)
Jesus spoke these words after he had finished washing the disciples’ feet. Firstly, he made it quite clear that our loving one another was not a suggestion, but a “new commandment” to men from God. This love we are to have for one another is not optional, but a required mark of the Christian.
Secondly, this love is to be of the same quality as Christ’s. He implied that we would judge the quality of our love by his, “just as I have loved you”. This sentiment should be deeply rooted in every Christian then: I don’t judge my spirituality by comparing myself with others, but with Christ. When we do this there is only one possible response, repentance and humility.
Thirdly, Jesus gave the world the authority to judge our Christianity by the love we have for one another. Regarding this verse Francis Schaeffer aptly commented, “Upon His authority He gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians. That’s pretty frightening.” This is a high calling, but it will be to the world’s good and our joy to pursue it in Christian community.
What is the quality of your love toward other believers? Read John 13 and ask yourself these questions:
- Have I treated my love toward other believers as a commandment, or a suggestion?
- How do I “wash the feet” (practically serve) of the Christians I am in relationship with?
- Do I judge my spiritual strength by comparing myself against others, or by comparing myself to Jesus?