FOLLOWING IN HIS STEPS BY WALKING IN LOVE
Yeshua set an example for us to follow in loving God first, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and then loving our neighbour as ourselves (Luke 10:27).
He always set the priority of honouring His Father above all else with every part of His being. In so doing nothing else took precedence over the will of His heavenly Father. All His love was centred toward the Father, His mind was continually upon Him, His personality faithfully portrayed the nature of the Father and all that He did was at the Father's direction. Out of that consecration, He ministered to the needs of men, His "neighbours" on this earth.
In this, as the Son of Man, the second man walked in integrity and faithfulness to the Father, where Adam failed. This is the pattern He established for the new creation man who would follow in His steps. Loving God is the greatest commandment of all and the one upon which everything else hinges. And who is our neighbour?
Yeshua answered the question with the parable of the "Good Samaritan" who took care of a stranger in need.
Love for God will extend in love for our fellow man who is made in God's image, "for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20).
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God is manifested toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." 1 John 4: 8-9
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
God so loved - that He gave!
He gave His only Son, His most beloved Son. And He gave Him up to be a sacrifice, to redeem we who were rebels and virtual enemies! What magnificent love!!!
God is love! Pure, self-giving, self-sacrificial love; without ulterior motive or any consideration of receiving in return, He gave His most treasured possession, His Son, Yeshua, to be our Saviour.
And Yeshua also willingly gave of Himself for the same purpose of redemption, and said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." John 15:13-14
Yeshua has called us to walk in the same type of self-sacrificial love to one another which originated in the heart of the Father and was expressed in Yeshua giving His all to secure eternal redemption for us. God loved us while we were yet sinners, and in that state, Yeshua poured out His life unto death for us. There was nothing attractive or commendable in God's sight about us (Romans 5: 6-8). But Yeshua considered it a joy to lay down His life, in the expectation of bringing us into the Father's glory. He did not determine His act of love by what we were then, but by what we would become (Hebrews 12: 2).
In the same manner, we are to lay down our lives for one another, striving together for the hope of eternal life, knowing that we have all come out of the same pit of corruption and are in varying stages of progress in being changed into His likeness. Therefore our acts of love are not determined by our brother's worthiness, but by the love of God Himself that has been shed abroad in our hearts, to enable us in this (Romans 5: 3-5).
"We rejoice in hope of the glory of God" which is to come, knowing that all tribulation which we may endure through our brother's imperfections, will only serve to produce the strength of perseverance in us and perfect His character in us, the attainment of which is the basis of our future hope (Romans 5: 2-4).
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34
This type of love is not natural, and it will mark us out as His disciples. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."
"God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him" 1 John 4: 7, 16b
Therefore we ought to "walk in love as Messiah also has loved us" Ephesians 5: 2
And, "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
"Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13: 8, 10
"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently" 1 Peter 1:22
We are called to have a sincere, fervent love for one another. This is not necessarily an emotional love, but one that motivates our actions to care for the other's needs and keep the unity of the Spirit with each other.
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, .. .. .. .. .. rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer, distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind one to another. .. .. .. " Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good." Romans 12: 9-21
Chapter 13 of the first letter to the Corinthians assembly, outlines the behaviour which breaks the principle of love and emphasises that it is more important to have love than any of the most spectacular spiritual gifts.
There will be many occasions in our walk with our brethren when misunderstandings and disagreements will occur, when both yourself and others act out of the fleshly nature and need to seek forgiveness from God and from each other. We need to have a forgiving heart, not taking account of one another's sins and weaknesses, but instead being patient, humble and tenderhearted with each other.
Yeshua said that we should be prepared to forgive our brother "seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-35)
Regardless of what our brother should do to us, we have the greater debt before God and He has forgiven us ALL our sins. Therefore we should be prepared to forgive our brother the things he has done against us.
God's love is not weak and indolent, it is corrective. As a good Father, He disciplines His people. "For who the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
"If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons;" Hebrews 12:6b-7a
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent." Revelation 3:19
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." John 14:23-24
Based upon the outpouring of His love in our hearts, we are called to a greater love in the new covenant. And so, it is a new commandment which Yeshua gives us as new creations, indwelt by His Spirit.
But it is still a commandment which comes from the Father, for His people to be like Him. The more we come into His likeness, the greater the measure of His abiding presence that will be manifest in our lives.
Again He says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever -- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you." John 14:16-17
The empowering of the Spirit comes as we set our hearts to obey the commandments that He has given to us.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome."
"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah unto eternal life." (Jude 21)