"And now I ask you, dear lady – not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning – that we love one another" (2 John 1:5).
It's pretty cool that this verse uses the phrase "dear lady." In the passage's context, the lady is referring to the Church. What's so great is that this verse is point-blank reminding us that the call to love others is nothing new. The Church is called to love people. There is no room for debate on that.
Love others. We all know how simple it sounds and how hard it is to put into practice.
The good news is, God tells us how to love others best in the next verse. He defines love:
"And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it" (2 John 1:6).
We must walk in His commandments to be able to love others well. Walking in the truth of His Word is the only way to see past our selfish inclinations and natural instincts to truly put others first. Applying God's truth to our circumstances is the best way to love others in the present moment, even when our feelings are hurt, even when our reputation is at stake, and even when our pride feels the sting of rejection. If we want to love others better, we need to spend more time in His Word.
Walking in truth means seeing past the temporary. It means seeing how God's character is unchanging. His commandments are in place to protect us, safeguard our purpose, and show us the need for grace. Trying to live by His commandments allows us to see how much we fail to maintain perfect holiness and how God still lavishes His grace on us. Experiencing God's grace prompts us to show grace to others when they mess up. We can love others when they let us down because we know that we constantly let down a perfect God, and He is always willing to love us.
Walk in truth to love others better.
Take this challenge:
Think of one person in your life that you need to love better.
Who annoys you? Who do you avoid? Who requires just a bit more energy?
After thinking of the hard-to-love person, find one reasonable and achievable way to love him or her better this week. How can you apply scripture, walk in God’s commandments, and love that person more?
Is it taking fifteen extra minutes to engage in a meaningful conversation?
Is it sending an encouraging text?
Is it running an errand or completing extra work or solving a problem to create free time in that person’s schedule?
Find your person. Find your action. Walk in love.