By this everyone will know…

There’s a Bible verse that’s been in my head lately that I can’t seem to shake.

By this everyone will know...

It’s a verse in John, chapter 13. Jesus was spending his final hours with the disciples and he said in verse 35 “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“By this…if you love one another.”

In other words, when I’m gone, the one thing that should define you as a believer…the one thing that people should see in you and immediately recognize you as a Christ follower is love. Love.

Today though, it seems that Christians aren’t usually (if ever) defined by love. Instead, we’re often defined by opinions on certain topics, political issues, you name it.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having opinions or speaking up for what you believe in.

Jesus, Himself, certainly had strong opinions. I mean, it takes about 15 seconds to figure out His opinion about the Pharisees. And He certainly didn’t mind sharing his opinion of what was going on in the temple courts in Matthew 21 when he said “you are making it a den of robbers.”

But that’s not how we define Him.

In fact, you can’t even begin to explain who Jesus is without describing His love for us. After all, it was love that kept him on the cross when could have easily gotten down.

Why, then, do so many people associate love with Jesus, but not with His people?

I think it’s because in most situations our opinion is the first thing we offer anyone.

I know I tend to do that.

Like when someone loses their job or their home…I’m really quick to form an opinion of what they should do next. Or I analyze the situation and outline all of the things I would have done differently to avoid those circumstances in the first place.

“Oh, I never would have taken that job anyway…the signs were everywhere.”

“Maybe if Jim hadn’t taken so many vacations and saved some of his money, he wouldn’t have fallen behind on his mortgage.”

Yeah, I have an opinion about everything…whether I offer it up or not. We all do. It’s human nature.

Trust me, though, if Jim just lost his job or his home, he couldn’t care less about my opinion.

In those situations, I’m ashamed to say that loving that person rarely crosses my mind right away, if at all. And if it does, it’s usually several days later. (Long after I’ve formed my opinion)

How would the view of Christians be different if that order was flip-flopped?

What if the first thing we offered up wasn’t our opinion, but rather our love?

Who cares how Jim lost his job or his house, how can I love him today?

Thankfully I do know a lot of folks who love others extremely well…even the ones they don’t agree with. Can you think of someone like that? Aren’t we drawn to those people? Don’t you want to be around them more?

In contrast, are we ever drawn to the person that is constantly giving their opinions?

I want to be more like the person who shows Christs love in all circumstances…to all people.

I want to offer love more and my opinions less.

In order to do that though, I can’t let my desire to be heard outweigh by desire to be His hands and feet.

You know, in John 13, verse 34 Jesus didn’t say “Hey, would you mind loving people when I’m gone? It would really be a nice touch.”

Nope.

He said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

It’s funny…the more I know someone cares about me…the more they show me love…the more interested I am in their opinion.

I think that verse has been sticking with me lately because I’ve got a great deal of work to do here. What about you?

Stephen

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  • Janet Thompson

    Oh, yeah, Stephen. When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, the last letter was a J. For judging. I need a lot of work too. Good read.