Last Words on Love Are Not to Be Forgotten

My face flushed with shame. “I can’t sit across the table and pretend this never happened,” a friend recently admitted.

I have hurt a valued friend. I never intended to alienate my friend, but now there is misunderstanding and resentment where friendship used to be. It is partially my fault. I have neglected their concerns, presuming everything is okay beneath pleasant smiles that mask resentments hiding in silence.

The problem is silent no longer and the discord opens a thin, hurting place in my heart. Guilt leans over my shoulder, whispering, “Who do you think you are? You have no business, no right, to write about loving others.”

Love One Another

I read this verse and squirm at the times I’ve blown it. I begin to tap out words about love on this keyboard and feel a bit like a child playing dress up.

I cannot write these words from a perspective of giving advice, for loving others has hard moments and I fail frequently.

Jesus could have talked about many things on this last evening with the disciples. They could have spent the time reminiscing the many stories they had lived together. He could have explained in great detail what was about to happen. He could have reviewed three years of teaching.

But last moments are for the heart and Christ leaves his disciples with one last, powerful lesson on love.

Moments before, He has washed the feet of his students, turning social norms upside down. With the power of example, Christ shows his friends the importance of serving one another with humility.

A new commandment–from the position of a servant, hands wet with the dirty water, Jesus opens a fresh perspective on a familiar topic. A commandment is not an option, suggestion, or choice. These are words to be obeyed. Words to be lived.

Why does Jesus close out his time on earth, his last peaceful moments of friendship, emphasizing the importance of loving one another? These are  the last moments before the world will rise against him with the harsh words chanted by frenzied crowds, “Crucify him, crucify him!

When we dig beneath the soil of our ambitions, our greatest need and our deepest struggle is to love and be loved.Love me,” is the cry of every heart. “Am I loved? Am I loveable? Am I worth loving?” is the question that hides in every motivation, desire, and conflict.

Why this lesson on love?

  • Because love is hard and love is necessary. Like oxygen, we can’t live without it.
  • Because love is where life is lived, salvation worked out, and victory won.
  • Because loving God and loving one another is the one foundation we cannot do without.

Without love, obedience hardens into legalism, performance, and religiosity. Without love, service is meaningless, teaching becomes noise, and faith misses the point.

Really, what else is there to talk about?

A picture of God’s heart

Avoid selfishness, humility, regard othersThrough Christ, God shows us the core of his heart and what is most important to him.

When it comes to loving others, we teeter between not loving others well or loving them over and above loving God. Either way, we stumble with unsteady steps.

Philippians 2:4

This side of heaven we are going to struggle to love God and love one another.

“He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Maybe you are ready to wring your hands and shake your head in discouragement thinking, “it’s going to take a lifetime to learn to love God’s way.”

Look at it from a different perspective–he is never done, never gives up on us. God will keep working in us and throughout our lives He will teach and train, convict and comfort, convince and empower us to keep growing step by step and day by day.

God loves with no limits or quotas. Every single day we have a fresh opportunity to lay aside the un-love-liness of our flesh, our do-it-myself-please-myself striving to feel loved and get our way.

How often have we tried to live as Christ’s disciple, trying to love others better?

Trying to do the right thing.

Trying to love God and do all the doing.

The try-hard life  depends on our own resources. We cannot simply improve our behavior and do better, for matters of the heart will not be constrained to human effort.

Before we can love one another, we must begin with these  words…

…even as I have loved you.

Love One another

As I remember my own struggles to love and be loved, it is easy to forget love begins with God.  It is only in the context of God’s love that my love has any hope of being real and true.

We love, because He first loved us.

This is the third post in a series on John 13. You can read the first two posts here:

Five Powerful Truths About Discipleship to Embrace Today

Knowing + Doing = Blessing

Subscribe today and receive printable graphics from this series.

I’m hanging out with these great blogging communities: #RaRaLinkUpTestimony Tuesday, Coffee For Your Heart, #TellHisStory, #JoyHopeLive, and Three Word Wednesday.

18 Comments

  1. Oh friend… I have been stretched on this lately too! The call to actually do it… not just talk about it! 😉 It’s easy to love those whom we love… it’s harder to follow through and love like Christ does and we cannot do it on our own! So true!

    • It makes me smile just seeing your lovely pic in my comments! So great to hear from you. I know what you mean. We talk about it all the time, but our struggles show us how much we need the love of Christ to love free from our self-orientation. Blessings Sister!

  2. It’s so hard to be on either side of a hurt friendship. 🙁 But having been on both sides, we can be more compassionate. So grateful too for the unconditional love Christ gives us!

    • Blessings Blogging Sister! Yes, we’ve all been there at some time and God can teach us so much in the challenge. Grateful for your presence here today!

  3. Tweeting your “heart trumps position” words. So devastatingly true. We can be “right” but soooooo wrong. I am always brought up short by Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mt.: If you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and GO — first be reconciled to your brother, THEN come and offer your gift. He leaves us no room for shilly-shallying there. Thanks for your brave words today.

    • Yes…and sometimes I can just be plain wrong. Relationships are such a blessing and they blossom when we can love others with the love Christ gives. I often wonder what our greatest hinderance to loving relationships is…the answer will be different for each of us, I’m sure. Blessings and thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Good Morning, Ginger!

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve been praying about a way that I could encourage other bloggers who have been encouraging me. Through your ministry, posts, words, comments, and faithfulness—your life has been a blessing to mine, and I wanted others to know about you!

    So, I compiled a list of those bloggers who I’ve personally found to be the MOST INSPIRATIONAL on the web.

    You are ONE Of these bloggers – in my estimation!

    You can find the link to the list where you are featured here: http://www.melanieredd.com/the-100-most-inspiring-christian-blogs-on-the-web/

    I’ve also signed up to get your emails, and tried to follow you on your social media outlets!

    I pray that God will encourage you today through these simple acts~
    Melanie

    • Your words are such an encouragement to me. Last night I was praying about the emotional challenge that blogging can bring. Thank you for you kind words. I am blessed by your writing as well! I loved pinning some of your best posts and getting a true appreciation for the gifts God has given you. Thank you for adding me to your list!

  5. Ginger,
    Thanks for the wise and honest words….I believe it begins as you pointed out by first receiving God’s love…it isn’t about trying harder, although I often do then God reminds me it is about first receiving His love and grace that I can then pass it on to another 🙂

    • Ginger Harrington

      Dolly, so nice to see you in this online space! Learning to receive God’s love on a practical level is something I am learning more about. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi Ginger,
    I’m your neighbor at Holley’s today. Oh I can so relate with your post about unintended hurts to a friendship but what hope your words inspire when we set our sights higher and try to love as Jesus loved! When we consider what God did for us and how he loved us, our slights and hurts and irritations pale in comparison. Good truth here today!

  7. Thank you for sharing with us at #JoyHopeLive!

  8. Gosh, conflicts are hard, but love is the answer. Every time. Sounds easier than it is. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this at #ThreeWordWednesday.

  9. Pingback: Finding Joy in Everyday #JoyHopeLive {32}

  10. So incredibly hard to love everybody, to love as Jesus loves. You are so right, we can only do it by His strength and His Spirit.

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