During the last week of Jesus’ life, he issued a “new command.”
34 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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).
This command was not “new” in the sense that it had never been said before. The Old Testament ethic required loving God and neighbor (see Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18).
The commandment was new in that it applied the example of Jesus to the way believers are to treat one another: “…just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (Jn. 13:34).
Disciples are called to love fellow disciples like Jesus loved them. Simple enough, right?
But what does love look like?
It must be more than emotion. Love has to be applied in a variety of ways.
1 Corinthians 13 provides some clarification – and conviction. The apostle Paul lists 15 different applications of love. Consider this list and an attempt to put some additional application to the individual words.
Patient – a willingness to keep going with hard people
Kind – a commitment to respond with more grace than deserved
Not envious – doesn’t wish for others to lose
Not boasting – not verbally celebrating your success
Not arrogant – not thinking that you are better or see everything clearly
Not rude – not treating people in a way that punishes
Not insisting on its own way – not being unreasonable and inflexible
Not irritable – not having a quick fuse or easily offended
Not resentful – not holding an internal grudge or keeping a list of wrongs
Not rejoicing at wrongdoing – not delighting in the fall of others
Rejoices in truth – celebrates what is right and true
Bears all things – willing to personally absorb unfairness and mistreatment
Believes all things – first step is one of grace, not suspicion
Hopes all things – confident in God’s ability to bring change
Endures all things – takes the long view; doesn’t quit
I have this list posted over the sink in my bathroom. It’s become a morning discipline to prayerfully review it.
The more I read it, the more I realize something: I know love is important, but living in love requires daily intentionality.
And it’s also really important.
After all, Jesus said that love for one another is how the world will know that we are the disciples of Jesus.
Mark Vroegop is the Lead Pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis, and the author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.