“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.“
We see this in the next verse: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Notice that greater love lays down his life FOR his friends and not TO them. The reason why that’s important is because true love involves me giving myself to God on behalf of someone else. Jesus did not give Himself to His disciples but He gave Himself to God and God gave Him to us, His bride. The specific word for “life” in this verse is not our biological life. It is speaking of the soul which involves our mind, will, and emotions. We need to be careful that we don’t give our souls to people. In fact, that’s the problem! We have been giving our souls to people—more importantly to OUR OWN SELVES. Our mind, will, and emotions are selfish and self-centered. And they clash with everyone else’s self-centered souls. It’s all about what I WANT, what I FEEL, and what I THINK!!! What’s wrong with all you people?!?! Didn’t you know that it’s all about ME?!
I must lay down my soul to God for others. But how do I lay down my thoughts, wants, and feelings to God? I have to recognize that I’m not right, to surrender, and to receive Him. James 1:21 says, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” It’s not me getting better but me getting replaced. As I let go of me and receive Him and His word, He gives me His wants, His feelings, and His thoughts. Now I can actually love that other person, because I have God’s thoughts towards them inside of me. Giving up myself and receiving Christ not only saves me but allows God to get at others around me.
But I must abide in Christ! The key I believe is here: “If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Keeping His commandments is not merely following a list of do’s and don’ts but of treasuring and meditating on the His Word. Intently looking upon His commandments doesn’t make God love me more, but it allows me to live in the love that He already has towards me. And if I don’t intently meditate on His commandments then I will be focused on something else—giving myself to someone or something else other than Him.
Dear brother and sister, abide in Christ, keep His commandments, give up yourself to Him for the sake of those around you. This is His commandment SO THAT you love one another as He has loved us! Praise God!