A NEW COMMANDMENT
One of them,
a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:9, 12
I have often been puzzled about the words, “A new commandment,” in John 13.
As seems to be the case with every christian I know, I have been well steeped in teachings based on the two great commandments sited by Jesus in Matthew. I have learned that I am to love God with all I am and have; that I am to love my neighbor as myself.
The challenge is, this usually means coming up with something on my own strength, which is impossible: Apart from Holy Spirit, I simply have nothing to give.
Then, I heard a teaching that really made sense:
Instead of being called on to love as a matter of duty or obedience; according to the law, we are now brought into the New Covenant, which has a new commandment: Abide; allow God to fill us; then share with those around us. We don’t act on our own strength or resources; we receive first; then give.
I have often heard teachings about the need for us to love ourselves so we can love our neighbor. That seemed right to me. Now, however, I am thinking that part of the Good News is, in Jesus, we can love others, even while we are still healing, learning to love ourselves and growing.
I am reminded of Philippians 4:19. In its context, it usually refers to material requirements. For me, however, it has expanded to mean every need, spiritual, soulful, relational, financial, vocational, physical and material:
“God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory.”
He is the one who supplies the love that I can then express to my neighbor. There is consistency in that: Love is dependent on Jesus’ faithful provision; not my strength, mood or ability. How cool is that!