“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14
Sacrificial love is the heartbeat of Christianity. Jesus expresses it perfectly by taking our sins upon himself and dying in our place. While we may not be called to literally lay down our life for a friend, we will do what the apostle Paul referred to as “dying to ourselves” when we sacrificially love others. That’s because sacrificial love stretches us way beyond our comfort zones and way beyond what we think we can bear.
Jesus talks about love in Matthew 5:44. He said it's easy to love the people we like, but Christians are to take it much further and love the people we don't like. Why did Jesus say to love our enemies? Because he said it identifies us as God’s children. This is the action that really sets us apart from others.
Just a little further, in Matthew 5:48 Jesus adds this to the teaching... he tells us to “be perfect.”
Seriously, is this even possible? I don't think Jesus would tell us to “be perfect” if it wasn’t possible. The father of the Methodist movement, John Wesley thought so too. He preached on "Christian perfection." He said it is possibly by fulfilling the two great commandments Jesus gave us: "to love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:38. Wesley said the Holy Spirit enables us to do this. As we grow and mature as Christians we are stretched to love others more. You might be surprised who you can "love" with God's help.
This is the kind of love that saves marriages, goes into prisons, travels around the world to help those less fortunate and keeps us from giving up on someone.
Loving others isn't easy. Loving people we don't like or don't agree with is even harder. But here's the key: we find our strength in God. Loving God with all our hearts enables us to love others with all our heart..
Who do you need to love more today? Ask God and he will help you love them the way he does.