Saturday, May 4, 2013

Jesus Raises the Bar on Loving, John 13:34-35

I recently realized that Jesus raised the bar on love just like everything else during his ministry when He taught the higher law. 

First, here’s the commandment that the Israelites had from Moses:

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people,
but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19:18)

The commandment is to not bear any grudge (to forgive), and it is also that one should show the same affection and care for others as one has for one’s self.  The assumption is that one cares for one’s self pretty well, right?  But there’s a weakness to it in that it doesn’t take into account that there are some people who, for whatever reason, do NOT love themselves and have a hard time doing so.  They may treat others as badly as they treat themselves, or they may treat others far better, while shortchanging themselves.

The cool thing is, Jesus gave a better commandment:

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35, emphasis added)

Instead of loving others as we love ourselves, we are to love others the same way that Jesus loves us.  That means a new challenge presents itself—somehow we must discover for ourselves just how Jesus loves us.  I don’t think that is an all-at-once discovery, nor is it solely an intellectual concept; I think it comes line upon line through experiences with repentance, answered prayers offered in His name, finding answers we seek, even serving others.  We learn it through miracles, we learn it through the peace of the Spirit.  It’s also a gift that we can ask God for directly, as Mormon told the Nephites:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God… (Moroni 7:48)

I love that.  We can go straight to the source for that love we need for ourselves and for others.

One big way recently that I’ve felt the love Jesus has for me has been as I’ve received encouragement from people just as I was becoming discouraged in my writing and one of my callings.  They had no idea that I needed encouragement, but somehow the Lord moved them to say the things I needed to hear.  It came right when I desperately needed it, and it reminded me that Jesus knew what my struggles were, knew how to help, and did it. 

I’ve learned over time to feel the love of the Lord encouraging me towards repentance.. though it can be a bit uncomfortable.  I’ve learned that the love of the Lord is in the special peace that comes as I’ve repented.  I’ve had to learn that the Lord doesn’t give up on me because of my weaknesses and that He loves me anyway.  That encourages me to turn to Him in my weaknesses, and it also helps me see how to give that love to people around me in their weaknesses.  Of course, I still have so much learn and practice.

Tell me a few ways you’ve discovered Jesus’s love for you.  How have you then passed that love on to others?


Ramona Gordy said...

Serving in Primary has helped me to learn to love. I don't have children and that has been a stumbling block for me. When I was called as a Primary Teacher, I was really scared for want of a better description.

I didn't want my feelings of disappointment or jealousy to inhibit me from seeking out a relationship with the kids. So my first class consisted of kids who were just as "broken" as I was.

They came from families that weren't "perfect" and they carried those burdens and they suffered emotionally because of it. I had to pray for healing of my heart and compassion for their suffering. I strive to "search" their hearts so I can know what is the best way to reach them. I am not the huggy kissy teacher, but I feel like they can trust me, and they can talk to me as a person, not a parent, but as a person. So my heart can love them as they are without judgment. I do give out hugs as needed though

Michaela Stephens said...

I agree, serving in Primary has helped me learn to love too. I'm primary chorister and often when I think about the children and how to teach them a song I feel such love for them.