Jesus boiled down all the commands of the Bible to this: Love God and love one another. If our love for God is primary, we won’t sin against Him. And if our love for one another is sincere, we won’t willfully sin against each other.
Knowing that is not the problem. It’s living it. And that’s what Peter deals with in 1 Peter 1:22-25. As we grow in God’s holiness, we will also grow in our love for God’s people. It’s a command to love each other – not because we are all so lovable, or because it’s part of our personality. This command to love one another is a direct result – a byproduct – of living holy lives before God.
What kind of love are we called to for one another, and how is that love sustained? To answer the first question, we are called to walk in…
1. Sincere love from a purified heart (v. 22)
It’s not a love based on what I can get in return. It is a pure love, not rooted in subjective feelings or emotion, but rooted in the objective person of Jesus Christ and His love for us – His saving power in us, and His unifying power between us. And our love for one another must come from a pure heart, and that’s something only God can provide. It’s not self-serving, but it is self-less. Christ-like, brotherly love is the kind where you put the other person’s needs above your own, their well-being above your own. It is sacrificial and serving in nature.
That means the love we have for one another is supernatural, it is transcendent and only possible from the power of God at work in a transformed heart. That’s why growing in God’s holiness causes us to also grow in our love for one another.
Secondly, this love Christians are to have for one another is…
2. Sincere love sustained by God’s Word (v. 23-25)
God is the one who saved us. And God saved us by planting in us the seed of His word. Peter says that seed is “imperishable”, it doesn’t have a shelf life. It doesn’t spoil. It doesn’t lose its power. The gospel – God’s word planted in you – is what saved you. You are born again, you are re-born in Him, with a new life, a new identity, and a new nature, new desires, through the “living” and “abiding” word of God.
Just as the Bible reveals to us who God is, and how God saves us in Christ, the Bible also lays out for us how we are to live. If I am left to my own feelings, or my own desires, I will love people one day and not love them the next. God’s love doesn’t work that way. And the new nature you and I have been given is the nature of Christ, to reflect the kind of love God has given us. We become aware of that by being in God’s word. When we forget, we are reminded of that by being in God’s word. His love, His faithfulness, His grace on display on every page.
So why don’t we walk in this love more often?
Self-righteousness. We withhold sincere love from others because we don’t think they’re worthy. But God’s love is grace-based. We don’t earn God’s love. And because of that, we shouldn’t have to earn love from one another.
Self-centeredness. We can struggle with receiving love. You feel like you’re not getting what you need from others. We turn our own desires into needs – I need someone to love me, to respect me, to affirm me, to appreciate me, before I can love others. But Jesus is the one who meets all your needs. Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Be satisfied in Christ’s love for you. Be filled with what He has already given. And you will be able to give and reflect what you have received.
Condemnation. That voice whispers in your head, “How could anyone love you? If they really knew you, and what you’ve done, who you really are, no one could ever really love you!” Let me tell you today, Christian. That is a lie. Jesus not only died for your sin, but He died for your shame. Receive His love, not because you’re worthy, but because He is. Receive that love and then you will be able to give that love to others.
When we walk in that kind of love, a sincere love that comes from a purified heart and sustained by God’s word, we will be a blessing to one another, and we will reflect God’s glory to the world.