Broken relationships not only require forgiveness, but they also require unconditional love.
Read John 13:31-35
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
These words of Christ are often viewed as the new commandment, one that calls his disciples to a new standard of love. However, this command is not a change in God’s moral standard from the Old Testament but rather an outgrowth of it. We find in Leviticus 19:18 the same standard when the law states, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Furthermore, Christ had already pointed out that the summation of the law is found in loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-33). What is new is not the command but the standard and example that Christ gives us about the nature of this love. This command is unique in that it is grounded in the redemptive work of Christ. We have a new and more explicit example now to follow. We are to love others in a way that is consistent with and reveals the kind of love Christ demonstrated. We are now confronted with the question, “In what way did Christ love us?”
First, Christ loved us when we were still enemies of him. Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is easy to love people that we care about and care about us. It is a different story to love those who seek our harm and misfortune, who delight in our failures and weaknesses. Yet this is the love that Christ demonstrated. Just as he loved us when we were unlovable, so we are now to demonstrate love to those who are the most difficult to love.
Second, Christ loves us with unconditional love. In Romans 8:35-39, we find that “Who will separate us from the love of God…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” His love is entirely unconditional so that we cannot even separate ourselves from his love, nor does time diminish his love. We often condition our love upon the actions of others, and we stop loving them when their efforts do not measure up to our standard. But Christ calls upon us to love people without any such standard that our love for others is not determined by their response but entirely on our decision to love them.
Third, Christ loves us with sacrificial love. John calls us to a sacrificial love when he writes, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Genuine life is sacrificial love. It places the needs of others above our own needs. To love people is to be willing to sacrifice our time, energies, and even possessions for their benefit.
Fourth, Christ loves us with a purposeful love. His love is not arbitrary but has a purpose, and that purpose is to move us to holiness, “Christ loved the church…so that he might sanctify her…so husbands ought also to love their own wives” (Ephesians 5:25-28). To truly love someone is to desire to see them grow in their relationship with Christ and become more like Christ. It is to see them become and live in holiness, being set apart for God’s use. To love others is to be a witness to them, and invite them into a personal relationship with Christ.
Today ask Christ to give you this kind of love even towards those with whom you have a broken relationship.