1 John 2: Loving Others is Not Just a Choice

In 1 John 2, the author, John, is declaring that if you are truly in Jesus Christ, you will keep his commands. One of these commands is one that Satan himself cannot replicate–the command of loving one another (John 15:12, 17). Real love cannot be duplicated by Satan. Real love has patience, kindness and consideration of others (1 Corinthians 13:4). It will not push someone beyond their capabilities. John introduced this thought process for application within the church setting. Love helps us to truly love each other for who they are and not for what they do. Love is not a choice–it is a command of God. This is important because we know there are some people that God places in our life that are not necessarily “lovable.” The real proof of the love of Christ in one’s life is how that person loves those within the body of Christ AND those that are not in the body of Christ. Christ gave the example for us (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). His love for us was before we could even express our love.

To love one another is one of the greatest commands for us to fulfill. Satan will use this to divide people within the body and to see if people will fulfill the test. While the church’s expectation is for those to follow the church’s rules of law, it is the individuals within the church that are to go beyond that and see people more for who they are. The command of love is old, and yet it is new to the believer.  “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command, but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7-8). God declares that to truly follow Him, you have to love everyone. We have to learn to love those who may hurt you or disappoint you.

Love is not a natural thing to do. To love someone for themselves is very difficult, but this is the love that God wants us to carry out. “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). Love overcomes and removes feelings of resentment, complaints, ill will, bitterness, or grudges. God’s love for us is the reason that we must love in this way.

Families also have to learn and live this type of love. The body of Christ is, essentially, a large family. With so many differences within the body (1 Corinthians 12:27-28), we see the importance of this command. Just as a husband and a wife need to be honest with each other, we are required us to be honest with one another as we act on the command of love.  God breaks down barriers that would cause division within our groups. Love deals with the difficult issues. Regardless of our ethnic backgrounds, all of us our Christians first. God wants to live together as brothers and sisters in Christ. “For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, He did away with the law of the commandments in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it. When Christ came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:14-20).

Once those barriers are broken, it is now our responsibility to live according to God’s new command. It is not an option or a choice. If you truly have the heart to love another, it will be easier to serve one another. “’I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also 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). It is Christ’s love that demonstrated that true love is about loving those who, on the surface, are just not likable. The lesson is to look at what is in your heart, and that it is important to demonstrate love to those who need to be saved (Luke 19:5-10). While the human part of us may say, “no,” the one who follows God will say, “I’ll go.”

God’s command of loving one another is the truth of God being lived out in your actions. True love does not allow the misdeeds of others to keep you from stumbling. The truth will force you to deal with those issues in order to be of the best service for the Lord, but you also have to decide not to walk in the darkness of the flesh. “Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:8-11).

Love also challenges the diversity of age within the body of Christ. Love has the ability for one to do their best, and then give our efforts over to someone else who follows us. This is important because, for both the elderly and the youth in Christ, the command of love is the command of all ages for those of all ages (Galatians 3:26-29). “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have had victory over the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have had victory over the evil one” (1 John 2:12-14).  The elderly members of Christ are to be looked upon as those who have wisdom and valuable instruction, living a life of walking with the Lord, and the youth, while they are strong and energetic, must battle Satan and overcome temptation and other distractions in order to effectively minister within the church. We can overcome with endurance and perseverance with the practice of loving one another. One of the primary dangers within the church is how Satan tries to keep the youth within the church from being involved in service and as active participants within the church. In the family setting, all of us are to love one another in order to accomplish His will for His people.

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