John 13:34-35 (NIV): “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
In John’s Gospel reading for today, Jesus had just sent out, Judas, the betrayer, from his close fellowship of disciples. Jesus was about to institute the Last Supper for his disciples and Judas would have no part in that fellowship. Judas loved money and the things of this world more than he loved Jesus and there was no place for him in sharing this last meal with Christ. The heart of Judas was apparently filled with greed and love of self. Although he had spent three years being a disciple of Jesus, he couldn’t accept into his heart what Jesus was all about. It’s difficult for me to fathom how Judas could have spent this time with Jesus and not been changed in a way that opened his heart to selfless service, compassion, and love towards others. It appears that Judas loved the material things of life more than he loved or cared for his fellow man. Where are you in regards with love for others or love of self?
I meet so many people today, both church and unchurched, that fail to grasp this command to “love one another.” Jesus warned us that in the last days, “because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). We certainly don’t have to look very far today to see this becoming a reality. There are exceptions of course, but as a general rule, most people are focused on the love of self and the things of this world. I can’t call myself a follower of Jesus unless I try my best to follow his last command to “love one another.” If this is an area of your walk with God that you struggle with, ask God, through the Holy Spirit, to open eyes and your heart to those around you who could benefit from the love, compassion, and mercy of Christ.
Jesus loves us so much that he laid down his life for each of us. There is simply no greater love than this. How can we not respond with love to those whom Jesus loves?
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV): For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
Psalm 28:7 (NIV): The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
Are you struggling to sense the Lord’s presence in your life? Do you sometimes feel that God is so far away and out of touch with the pain and struggles you are going through? If you do, then I want you to be encouraged by the two verses of scripture above. God is much closer than we often think or realize. Our creator God did not just create this world and all that is in it and then decide to disconnect from it. God is still involved in every minute detail of our lives and He is nearby to strengthen and encourage those “whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
I must admit that during this past week, I experienced moments in which I felt like God was so far away. The world that we live in takes great delight in causing us to turn our attention and our focus away from God. Instead of turning to God and pouring out our hearts, our fears, our worries, and our doubts to Him, we attempt to try and solve our problems on our own. Because we fail to sense God’s presence we try to “help” God. We take matters into our own hands and, speaking from experience, we usually end up making things worse. If we could only learn to trust in God and in His perfect plan for our lives…..oh how much better off we would be!
If you are feeling hopeless or helpless, remember and reread the passage from 2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. If you are feeling drained of your own strength, remember that God is close by and will strengthen you if you will just turn to Him and trust Him and ask for help. Pray to God and pour out your fears and anxieties before Him and He will give you the strength to persevere and overcome. What we are unable to accomplish on our own strength, God can and will help us, through His might power and strength. As King David writes, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). Trust in the LORD and in His strength.