“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (KJV, John 13:34-35).
“A new commandment”
Father, I thank You for Your commands. You have been good to me and shown me how to live. When I was apart from You, I dwelled in darkness, not knowing the way in which I ought to go. But You shed Your light into my life, and for that, I am thankful.
I could never have found You apart from Your grace. I could never have ascended into heaven as to bring You down to me. However, You sent Christ and have made a way for me to be made right with You. You have also given me commands; when I look upon them, I see that I have fallen short.
Please forgive me for the sin that remains in my life. Be gracious to me, and do not turn Your face.
Your commands are said to be like a lamp for my feet and light for my path. The Psalmist prayed that You would give him understanding so that he would keep Your law. So, father, I pray that You would help me to understand Your Word so that I, too, would keep Your law.
Later, I read of the Psalmist claiming that he would praise You because of Your righteous commands. Teach me to see Your righteousness shining through Your commands and cause me to praise You as well. Father, I also pray that You enlarge my heart and work within so I would run in the way of Your commandments. Teach me not to wander from Your commandments and thereby incur Your rebuke.
I pray that You would teach me by Your Spirit so I would not turn from Your commands. I long to be more than a hearer of Your Word but a doer of Your Word. True blessing does not come by simply hearing but by doing. Elsewhere, I read of the Psalmist earnestly desiring Your commandments.
So often, my flesh does not desire Your commandments but rather to live for self. Sanctify me so I will desire earnestly to hear of Your righteous ways.
“I give unto you”
What a blessing that You are willing to give me life. Jesus told His disciples that He was giving them a new commandment. So often, I do not look upon Your commands as I should.
However, Your commands are good for me; in them, I can find the path that leads to life. Teach me to look beyond the commands as well. Your commands are not an end in themselves. Instead, they give me a glimpse of Who You are. In Your commands, I am told how I can be like Christ, while in Christ, I can see my example of how I ought to live.
You are a giving God. You have given the sun as a light for the day and the moon to reflect the sun’s light by night. You gave the stars to light the night sky and provided water for the sea creatures. You gave the land for the beasts of the earth, and You gave the plants for food to eat. You gave the Israelites manna from heaven when they were hungry and food from a rock when they were thirsty.
When the Israelites were in danger, You gave them a fierce wind to part the sea and a hero to slay Goliath. After the Israelites sinned against You, You gave them a bronze serpent to look upon and live and grace to bear with them along the way.
“That ye love one another”
But herein, I see the beginning of the new commandment of Christ. Christ told His disciples that they were to love one another. But at the outset, I do not see how this commandment differs.
In the Old Testament, I read, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18). Here I am told to love my neighbor.
I see in Leviticus that love toward my neighbor must be characterized by a desire not to avenge or bear a grudge. I would not want people to seek my harm or hold a grudge against me; therefore, loving my neighbor as myself would be for me to do likewise.
“as I have loved you”
When I get to the second part of the new command that Christ gave, I see the implications. First, I am shown that the love in which I am to love has been set forth by Christ. As I look upon my Savior, I see sacrificial love on display.
Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).
In this way, a new commandment has come. Jesus has set the example for me to follow. He has shown me what sacrificial love looks like, and I am to go and do likewise.
However, I will never love as Christ has loved if left to myself. I need Your grace and help. I need Christ living in me to accomplish such a feat. But thank You, Lord, for the words of Paul. I am told that I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but instead, Christ lives in me. I am told to live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and died for me. As I look to You, Jesus, I pray that You would work through me and love my fellow man.
“that ye also love one another”
The implications of my love for others are far-reaching. Your Word tells me that people will know if I am a disciple of Christ by the love that I show. In other words, if I do not love my fellow man, I will show forth that I am not a true disciple of Christ. Your Word also tells me that if I do not love someone I can see, I am evidencing that I do not love You as the One I cannot see.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples”
I long to confirm my calling and election. I desire to have an assurance of my salvation. Here I see a way to examine myself concerning my salvation. Jesus tells me that if I have true biblical love, then I will show the world that I am a disciple of Christ.
Elsewhere I am told that if I am a disciple of Christ, I must deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Jesus. Where Jesus has gone, so will I go, and where Jesus is, there will be. Christ walked along Calvary Road in an act of love. His crucifixion is the most remarkable display of love the world has ever seen. Jesus has shown me what sacrificial love looks like. Teach me what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
“if ye have love one to another”
But I need the Spirit of God. I cannot love apart from the Spirit’s help. The Bible tells me that the fruit of the Spirit is love. The Bible does not tell me that it is my fruit or that I produce this fruit in my own life. While I know what I ought to do, I am sometimes confounded about how to do it. But here I see that love is a fruit of the Spirit.
Teach me to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit. Teach me to yield to the Spirit’s work and trust Him to work through me. I cannot bear fruit in my life, but the Holy Spirit can. The fruit is His alone. I will have no room to boast in heaven, but I pray for Your grace to abound in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.