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A New Commandment

As I have loved you … love one another. (John 13:34)

Not long after washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus said to them: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Why did Jesus call this commandment “new” when God’s command for His people to love one another goes back as far as Sinai? The Lord was giving His disciples a new standard: to love as He loved us. Jesus willingly sacrificed His life for the eternal good of His disciples, and He expects us to do the same.

Fulfilling the new commandment means we joyfully surrender our lives for the eternal good of others. We build one another up rather than tearing one another down. We freely give up our rights if exercising them causes our brothers and sisters to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13). We joyfully give our time and money to those who have need. In minor issues of faith and practice, we yield our opinions for the sake of peace. We lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters in Christ, the same way He laid down His life for us.

When we love other Christians the way that Christ loved us, we prove to the world that we are in fact His disciples (John 13:35). By this we follow in His footsteps. By this we prove that we truly believe the message we preach. If we want people to believe that God loves them and sent His Son to save them, then we must live in loving unity with other believers (John 17:20–23). If we expect the world to believe that we are indeed Jesus’ disciples, then we must love one another as He loved us.