Commanded to Love

II Jn 1:4-6


4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (NKJ)


Sometimes we get a little confused about love.

A little girl stayed for dinner at the home of her first-grade friend. The vegetable was buttered broccoli, and the mother asked if she liked it. The child replied very politely, "Oh, yes, I love it." But when the bowl of broccoli was passed she declined to take any. The hostess said, "I thought you said you loved broccoli." The girl replied sweetly, "Oh, yes, ma'am, I do, but not enough to eat it!" --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 434.

Psychologist James Dobson reports seeing a sign on a convent in southern California reading: Absolutely No Trespassing--Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law. Signed, "The Sisters of Mercy." --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 107.

Love is a command. That is how Jesus to command us to love those who we so strongly disagree with. Luke 6:32"But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Love is a command. The commandment to love others is both old and new.

It is old because it comes from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18).

Lev 19:18 18You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

It is new because Jesus interpreted it in a radically new way (John 13:34-35).

Jn 13:34 34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

In the Christian church, love is not only expressed by showing respect; it is also expressed through self-sacrifice and servanthood (John 15:13).

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (NKJ)

In fact, it can be defined as "selfless giving," reaching beyond friends to enemies and persecutors (Matthew 5:43-48). Love should be the unifying force and the identifying mark of the Christian community. Matt 5:43-48

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (NKJ)

Love is the key to walking in the light, because we cannot grow spiritually while we hate others. Our growing relationship with God will result in growing relationships with others.

Love is a choice.

Does this mean that if you dislike someone you aren't a Christian? These verses are not talking about disliking a disagreeable Christian brother or sister. There will always be people we will not like as well as others.

John's words focus on the attitude that causes us to ignore or despise others, to treat them as irritants, competitors, or enemies.

Christian love is not a feeling, but a choice.

We can choose to be concerned with people's well-being and treat them with respect, whether or not we feel affection toward them.

If we choose to love others, God will help us express our love. The Handbook of Bible Application

Christian love is not an emotion that we work up; it is simple obedience to the Word of God. Children love their parents by obeying them. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15, NKJV). How sad it is when Christians claim to love the Bible but hate the brethren. While saints may differ in their interpretations of certain passages in the Word, they must all agree on loving one another. Where there is a sincere love for the Bible, there will be a love for God's people. Loving the truth and loving the brethren cannot be separated. Wiersbe

Jesus loved the most disgusting people of His day.

He loved the tax collectors the prostitutes the down and outers.

As a group of college students toured the slums of a city, one of the girls, seeing a little girl playing in the dirt, asked a guide, "Why doesn't her mother clean her up?"

"Madam," he replied, "that girl's mother probably loves her, but she doesn't hate dirt. You hate dirt, but you don't love her enough to go down there and clean her up. Until hate for dirt and love for that child are in the same person, that little girl is likely to remain as she is." Until hate for sin and love for the sinner gets in a person, he will do little about the plight of the lost.

When someone asked a missionary if he liked his work in Africa, he replied: "Do I like this work? No, my wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into huts through goats' refuse. We do not like association with ignorant, filthy, brutish people. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? If not, then God pity him. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to 'go' and we go. Love constrains us" (2 Cor. 5:14).

2 Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; (NKJ)"Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go" (Matt. 8:19).

Love makes a difference in the lives of people.

A number of years ago a Johns Hopkins University professor asked his graduate students to locate 200 boys, ages 12-16 and research their family backgrounds. The assignment was then to predict their future. The students were sent to the slum area of the city to find the boys. The conclusion reached by the graduate students was that 90 percent of those researched would spend time in jail. The final chapter of this study would not completed until 25 years later.

When the 200 original students were sought after, some 25 years later, John Hopkins sent the researchers into the slum area again. Some of the group still remained in the slums, others had moved away, a few had died. In all they were able to locate 180 of the original 200. What they found amazed them. Only four had ever been to jail (remember the prediction had been 90 percent of 200)!

What caused this figure to be so low when all indications pointed to a larger number? When the researchers began to ask this question they found that they were getting the same answer, "Well, there was this teacher. . . ." Pressed further, the researchers found that the teacher in all cases was one and the same. The boys had all been influenced by the same teacher.

The graduate students traced down the teacher, now living in a retirement home, and inquired about her remarkable influence over a group of boys who were headed for a life of crime. She really could not think of any reason why she would have this kind of influence. She did mention that "I truly loved my students."

A Christian woman, laboring among the degenerate of London, found a poor street girl desperately ill in a bare cold room. With her own hands she ministered to her, changing her bed linen, procuring medicines, nourishing food, building a fire, and making the poor place as bright and cheery as possible, and then she said, "May I pray with you?"

"No" said the girl, "You don't care for me; you are doing this to get to heaven."

Many days passed, the Christian woman unwearily kind, the sinful girl hard and bitter. At last the Christian said, "My dear, you are nearly well now, and I shall not come again, but as it is my last visit, I want you to let me kiss you," and the pure lips that had known only prayers and holy words met the lips defiled by oaths and unholy caresses--and then the hard heart broke. That was Christ's way.


Fanny Crosby, the blind song-writer, was at the McAuley Mission. She asked if there was a boy there who had no mother, and if he would come up and let her lay her hand on his head. A motherless little fellow came up, and she put her arms about him and kissed him.

They parted; she went from the meeting and wrote that inspiring song Rescue the Perishing; and when Mr. Sankey was about to sing the song in St. Louis he related the incident. A man sprang to his feet in the audience and said, "I am the boy she kissed that night. I never was able to get away from the impression made by that touching act, until I became a Christian. I am now living in this city with my family, am a Christian, and am doing a good business."

God has called on us to love, not as an emotion but as a act of the will.

He calls us to love even those who would oppose us and work against us.

Surely then He calls us to love His children.

How do you show the love of Jesus in your life?


I was preaching in the Midwest one day, when a woman came to me with a little girl at her side. This woman showed by the cast on her arm and some scars on the side of her face that she had been in the hospital. She said, "I was in the hospital because of a very serious fire. There were burns over two-thirds of my body. My husband walked into the hospital room, took one look at me, and said, 'You're not the woman I married.' " He left her to marry someone younger and more beautiful. Human love says, "As long as you stimulate me, as long as I can be proud of you, as long as you're beautiful, I can love you. If you change, my love for you changes." -- Erwin Lutzer, "Learning to Love," Preaching Today, Tape No. 99.

Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. The book Iacocca records Lombardi's answer: "There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don't win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you're going to play together as a team, you've got to care for one another. You've got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: 'If I don't block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his.'

"The difference between mediocrity and greatness," Lombardi said that night, "is the feeling these guys have for each other." In the healthy church, each Christian learns to care for others. As we take seriously Jesus' command to "love one another," we contribute to a winning team. -- Christopher Stinnett, Wailed Lake, Michigan. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.

Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error. -- Fulton J. Sheen in Old Errors and New Labels. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 3.

It seems more likely, however, that the news of the church had been brought to the elder and that part of this news was that the church had suffered division as a consequence of the work of the heretics. Brooke speculates that the majority had been led astray. Be that as it may, the author rejoices that some of the children remained true to the faith he had delivered to them. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, New Testament, Zondervan

1:5 It is clear that for the author the commandment of love has precedence here as it does in 1 John 4:21: "And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." It is not that love precedes truth or belief but that love offers the clearest test of the truthfulness of the confession and the sincerity of the obedience given to God's commands. Belief may be feigned and confession only of the lips, but love is harder to counterfeit. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, New Testament, Zondervan

1:6 Four times in vv. 4-6 the author uses the noun "command" (entole). This is his way of making clear that what he is saying is a direct expression of God's will. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, New Testament, Zondervan

The test of love is obedience to God's commands, and the test of obedience is whether one "walks in love." The argument is intentionally circular. Love of God that does not result in obedience to the Word of God cannot be the love that is God's gift in Jesus Christ. Jesus' own love was manifested by his obedience even to death. Love of God can finally be expressed only in action and truth (1 John 3:18). Do we love our brother? Are we prepared to die for him? The Expositor's Bible Commentary, New Testament, Zondervan

The commandment John mentions here was an old one because it was in the law (Lev 19:18), although Jesus' example gave it new import (Jn 13:34-35). In the context of 1-2 John, "loving one another" means cleaving to the Christian community (rather than leaving it, as the secessionists were doing). IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness (2:9). "Hate" here is not so much an emotion as an attitude or failure to respond. John is not so much describing active animosity as he is an indifference to the needs of others, which is expressed by a failure to respond to them with love. The Victor Bible Background Commentary, NT On 1 John 2:9

Love demonstrates itself by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, and caring for the sick. Any lack of this kind of love, or failure to respond to the needs of the brothers, is in John's vocabulary, "hate." The Victor Bible Background Commentary, NT On 1 John 2:9

A class of little girls was learning to spell. They spelled a number of small words, such as "pig," "cat," "dog," "cow," and amused themselves by imitating the sounds that these animals make. Then little Mary was asked to spell "love." She didn't stop to give the letters, but ran and threw her arms around the teacher's neck and kissed her on the cheek. "We spell 'love' that way at our house," she said. The girls laughed, but the teacher said, "That is a beautiful way; but do you know another way to spell 'love'?" "Oh, yes," cried Mary, "I spell love this way," and she began to put the books in order on her teacher's desk. "I spell love by helping everybody when they need me."


This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at