“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
I believe the word “disciple” has been so misused because of the discipleship classes that are started in churches. Being a disciple of Christ is not a static position, but it is an active direction. Sitting and learning what you believe has nothing to do with being a disciple of Christ, but living what the Saviour wants you to be is what being a disciple is all about. One of the reasons we have so many shallow believers today is because we have changed what Christ called a disciple into a man-made definition of having doctrinal knowledge. Nowhere in the Scriptures will you see that a disciple is someone who knows what they believe, but you will always see a disciple is someone who is actively following Christ.
One of the attributes of being Christ’s disciple is to “love one another.” You won’t have to put on a show of love for people when you are following Christ because it is a natural attribute of following Him. You can’t follow the Saviour who loves the world and not have His love in you. There are several things the verse above does not say about loving one another.
First, it does not say that the one you love will be good to you. One of the greatest misnomers of love is that it is a two-way street. Love is not a two-way street; it is a one-way street. Love is given without any expectation of reciprocation. When you are Christ’s disciple, you will love others even if others do not treat you good.
Second, it does not say that the one you love will show love back to you. Again, love is not about if someone loves you; love is about you choosing to love. Christ loved the world in spite of the world not loving Him. When you become Christ’s disciple, you will find that your love for people won’t depend on whether they are loving towards you.
Third, it does not say that the one you love will treat you right. How others treat you will not affect how you love them. Love is not concerned with another’s treatment of you because that is not the reason you loved them. It is an empty love to reciprocate goodness to others only when they treat you right. True love desires to be good to others in spite of whether they treat you right.
Fourth, it does not say that the one you love will not hurt you. In fact, the opposite is true. Those you love will often hurt you the worst, but that is what makes love the key to reconciliation. When you love others, even when they hurt you, you will desire to reconcile the relationship.
Fifth, it does not say that the one you love won’t fall into sin. Sin has often hurt many relationships, but if you love someone, your love for them will not be quenched. Someone falling into sin has never quenched loved; rather, love implores the one who has been hurt by the sin to desire the one broken by sin to be restored.
My friend, what this verse says is that you will love one another in spite of what they do to you or how they live according to your expectations. Love is not determined by what the other does for you or to you, but it is determined by your choice to love them in spite of whatever they do. My question for you is, are you a disciple of Christ? Do you have love one for another? The only way you can acquire this type of love is to be Christ’s disciple.