Article written by Pastor Tan Kok Beng

18 December, 2022

(Christian Living 3)

The Lord Jesus gave a new command to His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:34-35 -NKJV). All believers and disciples are the family of God, so all are brothers and sisters in Christ. As in every family the children must love one another. How much so the Christians in God’s family!

However, it is not just human or brotherly love. Christ is talking about the agape love of God which has been given to us through the Holy Spirit (Rom.5:5). This love is described by Christ this way: “as I have loved you, so that you also love one another”. That is, we must love one another the same way Christ loved us – unconditionally and without pre-conditions.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church to explain the way Christ loved us: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph.5:1-2 -NKJV). Christ’s love for us is so great that He was willing to lay down His life for unworthy sinners like us. This shows that love involves sacrifice, even to the extent of giving up one’s life for another. The Apostle John reiterated this Truth: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our life for the brethren” (1 John 3:16 -NKJV). That is how powerful and meaningful agape love is.

In practical terms
, how do we show or exercise this agape love to our family in Christ? In our earthly family, we will never withhold anything from any of our siblings in need. So, in the same way we should not do so to our spiritual siblings in the family of God. In this regard, the Apostle John exhorted the believers: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in Truth” (1 John 3:17-18). The Apostles James echoed the same thought: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (Jas 2:15-16). Even praying for them without extending practical help is useless and hypocritical.

We have been blessed by God in so many ways – some more than others. Yet how many of us really have the love and compassion of Christ to dig deep into our pockets and give generously and sacrificially to those of our brothers in need – especially those serving God in the mission field in difficult places and under adverse circumstances? Unfortunately, some of us even speak unkindly of those in need who in desperation ask us to pray for them. We seem to doubt them and wonder if they are telling the truth. If we could only put ourselves in their shoes then maybe we will not be so quick to judge. May God help us to be kind. 

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