Jesus told us, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)
Have you ever really thought that? Jesus commands us to love. He doesn’t suggest it or highly recommend it, He actually commands it.
So many times we think of love as a feeling. And we can have a tremendous amount of guilt when we don’t “feel” loving. How can Jesus command a “feeling?” Tom Holladay in his book, The Relationship Principles of Jesus, says you cannot command an emotion, but you can command an action.
Love is so much more than a feeling…it is an action! When Jesus commands us to love one another He is not saying, “Feel loving toward one another.” He is saying “ACT loving toward one another.”
Tom Holladay says—
“When faced with the challenge to act with love, no matter how we may feel, there is something in us that rebels. We think, ‘I don’t feel right about that. I’d be such a phony to act with love toward someone when I don’t feel love. It’s not real if I don’t feel like it. I’d be a hypocrite.’
“Yet we do things all the time that we don’t feel like doing. If you woke up this morning and didn’t feel like going to work, you wouldn’t call and say, ‘I don’t feel like being a work today, so I’m not coming. It would be very hypocritical for me to come to work this morning.’ No, you go in anyway…
“Do you think Jesus felt like dying on the cross? Of course not. Jesus didn’t face that morning thinking, ‘I feel like experiencing the most excruciating pain, the most anguished disgrace, the most wrenching burden of mankind’s sin.’ In fact, the night before his death, he prayed in Gethsemane, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.’ In Jesus’ prayer we see that he didn’t follow his feelings. Instead, he prayed, ‘Yet not my will, but yours be done’…This kind of love can only come from God!”
We cannot allow our feelings to determine our actions! When we respond with love, even when we don’t feel loving, we are not being hypocritical—we are being obedient.
As we are fully submissive and obedient to Christ, we can allow HIS LOVE to flow through our responses and actions! I have discovered that when I don’t feel loving, but I choose to act in love, my feelings quickly begin to line up with my actions.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:9-12)
Joy and our obedience to the command to love are interdependent… hmmm… something to really think about…