A new commandment? Isn’t the whole Bible, particularly the New Testament about loving one another? What did Jesus mean by “a new commandment I give to you”? If we put this verse in context we find that he spoke this to the remaining 11 disciples after Judas had gone out into the night. What had happened just before that? Jesus had taken a towel and a basin of water and washed all 12 of the disciples’ feet. This included Judas whom Jesus knew was about to go out and betray Him. So, the “new” part of the commandment was that we should love , not just our Christian brothers and sisters but also our enemies even those that will betray us. Loving those who love us is easy but what about those that intentionally hurt us? Can we extend our love to them and invite them into the Kingdom? Jesus says not only that we can but that we must.
”An excerpt from a sermon by Rev Bill Frank Wilson, Corinth Church 05-24-2020
Believe in Jesus and love one another. Simple to say, not so simple to do. How can we know that we truly believe in Jesus? Do we instantly change or do we suddenly feel different? Or is it a gradual change over the years? It is some of both, we are instantly saved the moment we believe. We may not feel any different but salvation is based on knowledge not on feelings or emotions although we may get emotional when it happens. Salvation is the foundation of Christianity, it is involved in our lifelong process of sanctification and it is the capstone of the completed temple God is building in our bodies. So, how do we know this process is taking place on a daily basis? Do we love others more or differently? Does the grief and sorrow of others affect us more than before? Is our outlook slowing changing from “what about me?” to “what can I do for Jesus and His Kingdom today?” Does it break our hearts to know that we have done or said something that hurt Jesus and His Kingdom? If the answer to all of these questions is “Yes”, then we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is dwelling inside of us accomplishing what God wants in our lives. If the answers are no or I’m not sure, then perhaps it would not hurt to take another look at the foundation and see if it is solid.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
17 Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. 18 For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. 19 For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.—1 Cor. 7:17-19 NLT
When we are called by the Holy Spirit and we accept Jesus as our Savior, there most likely won’t be any great or significant changes in our appearance or our vocations. There probably won’t be any changes in the personality that God gave us when we were born. God is not too concerned with our outward appearance. Our outward appearance and situation have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. What God does expect is a change of the heart. If we have truly accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, our desires will change. We will want to follow God’s commandments simply because we love Him too much not to do so. He takes out the old stony heart and replaces it with a heart that desires His presence.
26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.—Ezekiel 36:26,27 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
3 We can be sure that we know God if we obey his commands. 4 Anyone who says, “I know God,” but does not obey God’s commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if someone obeys God’s teaching, then in that person God’s love has truly reached its goal. This is how we can be sure we are living in God: 6 Whoever says that he lives in God must live as Jesus lived. 7 My dear friends, I am not writing a new command to you but an old command you have had from the beginning. It is the teaching you have already heard. 8 But also I am writing a new command to you, and you can see its truth in Jesus and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.—1 John 2:3-8 (NCV)
The religious leader asked Jesus: ” What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered with two commandments instead of one. Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. He went on to say that all the law hinged on these two commandments. God has put His light in us to light the world and dispel darkness. The way we let our light shine is to obey these two commandments. We must spend time with Jesus to get to know Him better so we can love Him better, Then, by loving our neighbors, we demonstrate the love of God in our lives. When we accepted Jesus, we became aliens to this world and citizens of heaven. As ambassadors of heaven, we represent Jesus. It is our duty to reconcile others to Christ by giving them the Good News. We want to wait for some big thing to do, but we shouldn’t wait for grand opportunities. Start by doing a good deed today and you will give life and light to someone. As the old song says: Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!
Ina D. Ogdon, 1913
11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach.12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ 14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.–Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NLT)
This was the message that God gave to Moses to give to the children of Israel. Time and again, God would give them this message. Time and again, God changed the hearts of His people. They would disobey and go astray. Being a just God, He was required to discipline them. They would repent and turn back to Him and He would soften their hearts and accept their offerings again. That was the Old Testament.Then Jesus died on the cross for our sins and established a new and better covenant. Now, Jesus says the whole law hinged on two commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Two commandments that are certainly not hard to understand, but God knew we would fail, so He sent us a Helper, His Holy Spirit. 15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. –John 14:15-17a (NLT)
Now, He is closer to us than He has ever been. We don’t need to look for Him anywhere because He abides in us and is all around us. Or as St. Patrick said: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left.”.
There is no need for us to go anywhere or search anywhere because He abides in us and leads us into all truth. Two commandments, easy to understand, but not so easy to follow on a daily basis.
1 John 2:7-11 (NLT) 7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. 8 Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. 9 If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. 10 Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. 11 But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
It is so easy for us to say the words, “I love…..”. The question is this: Can we back that statement up with actions? John tells us that Jesus lived the truth of this commandment. We are told in the Gospels that Jesus went about doing good. If we look back on our life for just today, would it be possible for someone to make that statement about us? If someone had spent the day with you would they be able to say about you what the council said about Peter and John in Acts 4:12,13 (NLT) 12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” 13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
Do we love enough and live enough like Jesus that people would notice it? The Light has come, walk in that Light and let the love of Jesus shine through you.