In Matthew 22, some Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. In verses 37-39 Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (GNT). Jesus was very clear that we should love God first and then our neighbor.
On the night before the crucifixion, at the Last Supper, Jesus gathered His disciples around for one final teaching. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “And now i give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Jesus was adding that now we have to love other believers as well.
Sometimes the hardest people to love are within the walls of our churches. We find it easy to go out and love the homeless, the orphan, the destitute and the broken, but that’s not how Jesus said they would know we are Christians. Are those things necessary? Yes! Those are our neighbors. What’s difficult for so many of us is to love the person on the pew next to us or in the church across town. And that’s who Jesus commanded us to love on His last night. He knew we would struggle with this.
Jesus once said, “A house divided can’t stand.” Since that time, the enemy has tried to divide the Church. We’re divided into denominations and now we split churches because we grow to hate our brothers. If we’re going to be effective in loving our neighbors, we’ve got to love each other first. We need to put down our grudges and love each other instead. Until we get that right, how will the world know we are truly His disciples? If you’re holding a grudge, slandering or angry against another believer, you’ll find it’s difficult to obey the first two commandments effectively. Learn to love your brother (or sister) in Christ whether you think they deserve it or not.