Weekly Devotional - May 24, 2017

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (15:12-13)

Scripture Reading – I John 3:11-18

God is love (1 John 4:8). God has shown us His true character by through the most magnificent demonstration of His love. When Jesus died on the cross, He showed us what real love is. Love is the giving of yourself to others. Jesus bore our sins on the cross; He died a horrific death not because He was guilty of breaking God’s Law, but because He, the only perfect one, was paying our penalty. Because Jesus died, we are set free from the penalty of our sins. Jesus suffered, bled, and died showing us how much He loves us. His desire is for us to be with Him throughout eternity. No love is greater than what Christ demonstrated through His death on the cross. Jesus loves us in spite of our sin. He is fully aware of the deficiencies of our character. He knows our pasts and the wrongs we have committed. Yet, He doesn’t discard us. Even though Peter denied knowing Christ three times, because it could have cost him his life, Jesus still loved him. Jesus was willing to pay with His life, because He loves us.

If this is the greatest expression of love, how are we to respond? First, by worshipping Christ because this is our way of expressing our love for Him. If we love Him, then we are willing to obey His commands. This, too, is worship. We present ourselves as a living sacrifice by obeying Christ, rather than living for the world. Second, we respond by loving one another. If Christ, knowing the sins we have committed and the problems in our character, was willing to die for us, then how much more should we be willing to love those who are our brothers and sisters in the faith? By doing so, we are testifying to the world that we are all the same–sinners saved by the grace of God.

To love one another the way that Jesus loved us is a daunting task. Jesus shows us that love is not an emotion or empty words. It’s self-sacrificing action. No doubt, the church is a group of people who have problems; they are sinners who are struggling to live as saints. But by condemning our weak brothers and sisters, we show them that we are no better than the Pharisees, who were hypocrites. Instead, we are to help them grow to maturity. When we are weak, our brothers and sisters can help us so we don’t fall into sin. When we go astray, they are also there to lead us back to the one true path. When we are confused or afraid, they are there to strengthen us. We cannot survive the attacks of Satan and the world without the love of our brothers and sisters.

You and your church have an important calling to fulfill, and God has placed you in your specific location to bear fruit. He is working through each member of the church to make known the glory of His Name. Our love for one another is a tool in God’s hand used to prune the body of Christ so they will bear much fruit. We cannot fulfill our calling without the help of the church to spur us on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). Yet, sadly, we are often afraid that if we share our sins and struggles with others, we will be shamed or that our failings will become the source of gossip. So instead of getting the support we need to bear fruit, we hide our sins and struggle in silence. Worse yet, we do the same with Christ. We are afraid to confess our sins to Him, because we think that He will reject us and withdraw His love, but nothing is further from the truth. Christ accepts us as we are. And as we understand the depths of His love for us, we can confess our sins to Him and to each other, knowing that His grace is greater than our sins. Our churches should be safe places for people to share their sin struggles. And our love for one another should be an extension of Christ’s love for us. How are you helping others grow into maturity?

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