From Daryl Wingerd:
What does it mean to “love the brethren” (1 John 3:14)?
It has been correctly said that to truly love someone is more than just having feelings for them. Actions, in addition to words and feelings, are the proof of genuine love. The husband who truly loves his wife won’t just say he loves her. He will show his love by his deeds. The true Christian won’t just say he loves Christ. He will show his love by his obedience. True love certainly is more than a feeling.
But true love is also not less than a feeling.
Consider the words of Scripture, first from Jesus Himself:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Christians are to imitate Christ in loving one another. We are taught to love each other even as He has loved us. This implies Christ-like self-sacrifice, or giving ourselves for the good of other believers. In imitating Christ’s love for believers, we must “regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil 2:4). This is the “action” component of true Christian love.
But notice that after giving the command to “love one another,” Jesus goes on to say that the world will know that we are His disciples if we “have love for one another” (emphasis added). This tells us that Christ-like love is not merely bound up in our actions. It is something that we must “have” for each other. We must possess affection for other believers, and this affection then motivates loving actions.
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