By Todd Pekel


If you are like most Christians, the teachings you’ve heard about the love of God are innumerous. You’ve heard what God’s love is and what it isn’t. You’ve even heard what it may mean in languages long not spoken. How many believe that the Lord Jesus Christ knows what the Love of God is, and is able and willing to teach us?

John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse of Scripture, while concisely stating the Gospel message, also gives us a real working definition of what God’s love is. For God so loved... he gave. Simply stated then, we can say that love is giving. It’s complete selflessness.

While talking to his followers’ one day, Jesus gave them a simple, yet colossal, commandment.

John 14:15:
If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Have you ever had to keep something? You know, like score at a basketball game or your eye on something or someone? Then you know that to keep something is not just to hold it passively, it is a very active pursuit. You do something when you keep it. So it is with love. Jesus Christ said that if we love him, we were to keep his commandments. We can see this truth reiterated in the following exchange between Jesus and Simon Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

John 21:15-17:
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Each time the question, “lovest thou me?” was followed by a positive answer. Each time the answer was followed by a commandment. “Feed my sheep,” said the Lord. In other words, if you love me, do something.

Luke 6:46:
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

If we call him Lord, we should do the things he tells us to do. This point is made even clearer in the verses that follow the Lord’s question:

Luke 6:47-49:
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Do you see that? Both men heard the Lord. It’s not a question of hearing or knowing the commandments of the Lord, but whether we do them that makes a difference. You see, the blessing is not in the knowing, but in the doing of his commandments.

1 Corinthians 8:1b:
... Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Sometimes we can have the attitude that we are doing God a favor by loving or serving him. As if God would fall to pieces if we weren’t there to do something for him. Thankfully, we can’t even take credit for loving God. We couldn’t even love him, unless of course he loved us first. In fact, when we are born into this world, we are his enemies.

Romans 5:10:
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The very ability to love God, is given to us by our Heavenly Father. We love him because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19), not the other way around. In fact, he loved us with a love for which he says there is no greater.

John 15:13:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. They didn’t take it. He gave it. He loved us.

1 John 3:16:
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

God’s love can’t be put in a petri dish or on a slide and examined under a microscope. We can’t come up with a long-winded definition that tickles the ears of our audience. We can, however, perceive it “because he laid down his life for us.” As a result, then, we ought to do something. As the above Scripture declares, “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

1 John 5:2-3:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

The love of God is to keep his commandments. To do them. They are not grievous or burdensome because he first loved us. Therefore, we can love him and our brethren.

1 John 4:10-11:
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
10 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Christian! Don’t just sit there. Do something. Love somebody. Keep his commandments!

The following perhaps best illustrates what it is our Lord would have us to do regarding his love for us and, in turn, our love for the brethren.

John 13:1-12:
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

What a question! Our Lord asked them if they knew what he had done to them. Can’t you just see the look on their faces? Uh, gee, Lord... you just washed our feet... Once again, however, Jesus would have to explain his actions to them.

John 13:13-16:
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Jesus Christ’s life on earth is an example of love and service unparalleled. Isn’t it great to know it? But, brothers and sisters, let us remember that there is something far better than knowing it.

John 13:17:
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.



From the March 2003 issue of The Vine & Branches