The New Commandment
by James Smith, 1860
The distinguishing badge by which Christ would have his people known, is not by a sound creed, or by a conduct in the general correct, as excellent as these are — but by LOVE. Love is the image of his Father, love is the characteristic feature of his nature, therefore he said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples — if you love one another."
Nothing is so frequently pressed upon our attention, nothing is so urgently required of us — as love. Just before Jesus left his disciples, having displayed his own humble love in a most marvelous way, he said to them, "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." John 13:34-35. He does not merely counsel, or recommend — but he commands. He exercises his authority, and displays his love at once. Let us observe,
His Command."Love one another." He requires love to all saints, without any distinction. All who believe in him — all who acknowledge him — all who make his word their rule — every one whom he loves — we are to love. We must love the saints, though in some secondary things they differ from us. They may differ in some points of doctrine, they may differ in their views of ordinances, and they may differ as to Church government. But the dissenter is to love the churchman, and the churchman is to love the dissenter. The Calvinist is to love the Arminian, and the Arminian is to love the Calvinist. Love one another. Love every child of God, whether a babe, a young man, or a father. Whether a prince or a pauper, a peer or a peasant. Whether a youth or a man of grey hairs.
Jesus requires love — not merely pity, or sympathy, or respect — but love — that is, delight in them, and union to them. He calls this a new commandment, because it is a most excellent one — and also because it is novel. The old commandment was. "You shall love your neighbor — as yourself." The new commandment is, "Love one another — as I have loved you." Mark,
The Pattern:We are to love one another — just as Jesus has loved us.
He loved us freely — without looking for advantage, or expecting profit. So we are to love each other, not for advantage derived, nor gifts conferred — but freely for Christ's sake.
He loved us tenderly, with more than a mother's love. So are we to love each other tenderly as children of the same family, as members of the same body.
He loved us with a love of preference, preferring the ties of grace to the ties of nature. So should we love the Lord's people with a purer, holier love, than our natural relations.
His was a constant love. Having loved his own who were in the world — he loved them unto the end. So should we, displaying forbearance, patience, and compassion, as far as God's honor will allow.
He manifested his love by words and by deeds. So we should use the loving word, and perform the loving deed. From the cup of cold water, given in the name of Christ, up to our laying down our lives for the brethren. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
This love, Jesus displayed to us, and now he says, "Love one another, as I have loved you." Precious Savior, how wonderful your love! May the same mind, the same love be in us — which was also in Christ Jesus.
"I command you to love each other, as I have loved you. For this purpose I died for you. For this purpose I have provided grace for you. For this purpose I exercise my authority, and command you to love one another. For this purpose I have placed you in your present circumstances to prove you. Will you love my brethren, my sisters? Will you love them — as I have loved you? Do you wish to do it? Will you strive to do it? Are you sorry that you have not done it?"
Beloved, are we not guilty? Have we not forgotten and neglected this new commandment? What is the cause of our divisions but this? What would cure our heart-burnings — what would heal our breaches — what would give power to our testimony — what would bring about a glorious revival in the church — what would render the most beneficial impression on the world? This, this, a practical attention to Jesus, when he says, "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."