By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Someone once told me that a person can judge how well a husband loves his wife by the countenance of her face. He told me that the way I treat her when no one is watching will be reflected by her joy of life when other are around. This advice was not given to me so that I could judge other relationships better, but so I would know the importance of truly loving my own wife. I was reminded of this truth one day while we were doing some errands after work. As we were walking into a local grocery store a complete stranger startled Kristie and me by referring to us as “love birds”. After narrowly escaping the accidental eye contact and a chance to sign up for a credit card, my wife and I both expressed our joy in knowing that others can still see that we are hopelessly in love.
Just as our love towards each other makes it obvious to others that we are a couple, Christ instructs us that the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Within the original Greek of the New Testament there are several different words for our expression of love. The strongest of these, agape, is used within the text of this verse. An agape love is one that comes only through God. When Jesus tells us that all men will know we belong to Him by our love for one another, He is not talking about a simple or superficial love, but a deep and godly love. Just because I fall in love with my wife does not make me a Christian, neither does feeling sad for hungry children or wishing for world peace. These are all acts of love that the world is more than capable of expressing as well. The truth that our Lord is pointing out can be reflected within His own life by the love and compassion He bestowed on others. When I think about the love of Christ, I remember Him saying, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). I am reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan, His instruction to turn the other cheek, and most of all, His death on the cross. This is true love, and this is how the Lord is commanding us to live towards one another.
How well do you love those around you? It’s extremely difficult to show love towards those that despise or persecute you. It’s even harder to love those that you have been hurt by before. It is by Christ’s faithfulness in doing exactly that, however, that you and I may have eternal life with Him. And now, we are His disciples, His ambassadors to a dying world. It is our duty and obligation to show God’s great agape love to everyone around us.
By doing so, you introduce them to the love of Christ.