Love the Way Jesus Did: An Evangelist’s Perspective

There are hundreds of articles about loving like Jesus did. There are hundreds of verses to plumb the depths of God’s love. The New Testament was written in Greek and Aramaic, and there are 4 different words for love in the Greek language: eros, philia, storge, and agape. We even read in 1 John 4:7-10 that God is Love, and we see how God demonstrates that love to us.

Most of these articles point to scripture with examples of Jesus expressing his love in different situations. Jesus said “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48), and “they will know you by your love” (John 13:35). He told the story of the Good Samaritan, demonstrating how we are to love our neighbors (Luke 10:29-37). We are also to forgive endlessly, as Jesus does for us (Matthew 18:21-22).

Paul wrote the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) describing characteristics that demonstrate love.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

As we share the gospel with others, our speech and actions should reflect these attitudes.

What’s Different?

When you are sharing the Law and Gospel with others, you may run into objections or confrontations from others, both the believer and unbeliever. Cries of “Love is Love”, or “you just need to tell people that God loves them”, or “Jesus loved everybody, just love them”. There is an underlying accusation that you are preaching hate rather than love. Most of these articles writing about Jesus’ love are still missing some other aspects of God’s love. God’s love endures forever, it is a robust love.

There is a contrast in the way the world defines love and the way God defines it in His word. The world may define love as eros-love, their romantic love is that it is uncontrollable, innately built into people and we can’t control whom we love. It makes all love equal and sweeps under the rug the ultimate Biblical definition, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Even Christians can be deceived into believing a worldly view of love, that it is all-affirming or all-accepting.

A biblical definition: “Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.”
-Voddie Baucham, Family Driven Faith

What’s Missing?

But there is more to love than the simple definition the world uses. There are more ways of showing that love to others. We are reminded with the question, “If you saw a blind man walking toward a cliff, would it be loving to warn him and even forcibly stop him from walking off the cliff?”

Jesus showed his love and grace to the woman caught in adultery (the man was caught too) and brought before Jesus saying the Law says we should stone her. While recognizing her guilt, he challenged those who sought to trap her with their own sin. We must never forget we are all sinners. In doing this, Jesus showed love by showing grace, but also in calling her to repent, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). Repentance is a call of love, to turn from your sin because you love the one who commands it. It is love by Christ, showing mercy and delaying justice, giving sinners a chance to turn to Him. We are called to restore our brother gently (Galatians 6:1) when he falls into sin.

What did Jesus say to complete this sentence? “If you love me, you will ___” (John 14:15). Unlike most human relationships, this is a one-way expectation. We can’t say the same thing to Christ. It is His call to obedience.

Using the Law of God, such as the 10 commandments, is meant to draw sinners to God. It shows us our sin (Romans 3:20) as in a mirror and leads us to himself in need of a savior (Galatians 3:23-24).

God is our loving father (Hebrews 12:5-6), He disciplines those he loves. This passage continues, stating that when we are experiencing this discipline it is unpleasant (maybe it feels like hate to the world), but we recognize later that it was for our benefit (Hebrews 12:7-11).

Love the Way Jesus Did

When others chastise or challenge us regarding love, we train them in the ways that Jesus loves: In grace and mercy, warning the sinner and showing mercy. Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). When we proclaim the Law before men, it may feel harsh, but it demonstrates love for the lost sheep. It is meant for their good, we are calling them to repent and turn from their ways, to free them from their captivity and slavery to sin (Romans 6:6-7).

When others accuse you of hate, or challenge you to just love like Jesus did, you can teach them saying, “Yes, love the way Jesus did, here’s how.”

  1. We warn them to prevent future harm.
  2. Use the Law to show them their sin and lead them to Christ.
  3. What the world thinks is ‘hate’, God may use as discipline for the child He loves.
  4. Calling out a sin, before judgement, gives opportunity for grace and mercy to thrive.
  5. Repentance frees them from being enslaved by sin.

Always remember the grace and forgiveness that you received from Christ. We are commanded to do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). They will sense our true concern and love for them.

Author: Jon Neifert
Posted on December 19 2023