A new commandment I give unto you - In what sense are we to understand that this was a new commandment? Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, was a positive precept of the law, Leviticus 19:18, and it is the very same that Christ repeats here; how then was it new? Our Lord answers this question, Even As I have loved you. Now Christ more than fulfilled the Mosaic precept; he not only loved his neighbor As himself, but he loved him More than himself, for he laid down his life for men. In this he calls upon the disciples to imitate him; to be ready on all occasions to lay down their lives for each other. This was, strictly, a new commandment: no system of morality ever prescribed any thing so pure and disinterested as this. Our blessed Lord has outdone all the moral systems in the universe in two words:
2. Lay down your lives for each other.
A new commandment - This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves Leviticus 19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.
This was to surmount all distinction of country, of color, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other‘s feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other‘s welfare. See 1 John 3:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Galatians 6:2; 2 Peter 1:7. In all these places the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried; for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. John 15:13; “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So in 1 John 3:16 it is said that “we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for Christians, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.
After my husband died, one of our brethren, who thought a great deal of him, said, “Do not let them bury him, but pray to the Lord that He may bring him to life again.” I said, “No, no, although I realize my great loss, I will not do this,” I felt that he had done his work. No one but myself knew how great a load he had carried in the efforts we had put forth to advance the truth. He had done the work of three men. RY 164.1
Night after night, at the beginning of our work, when advancement seemed to be hindered on every hand, he would say, “Ellen, we must pray. We must not let go until we realize the power of God.” He would lie awake for hours, and say, “Oh, Ellen, I am so afflicted. Will you pray for me, that I may not fail or be discouraged.” Together we offered up our prayers, with strong crying and tears, until from his lips came the words, “Thank the Lord; He has spoken peace to me. I have light in the Lord. I will not fail. I will press the battle to the gates.” Would I have him suffer all this over again? No, no. I would in no case call him from his restful sleep to a life of toil and pain. He will rest until the morning of the resurrection. RY 164.2Read in context »
There is nothing which will weaken the strength of a church like pride and passion.... Christ has given us an example of love and humility and has enjoined upon His followers to love one another as He has loved us. We must in lowliness of mind esteem others better than ourselves. We must be severe upon our own defects of character, be quick to discern our own errors and mistakes, and make less of the faults of others than of our own. We must feel a special interest in looking upon the things of others—not to covet them, not to find fault with them, not to remark upon them and present them in a false light, but to do strict justice in all things to our brethren and all with whom we have any dealings. A spirit to work plans for our own selfish interest so as to grasp a little gain, or to labor to show a superiority or rivalry, is an offense to God. The spirit of Christ will lead His followers to be concerned not only for their success and advantage, but to be equally interested for the success and advantage of their brethren. This will be loving our neighbor as ourselves.... TMK 176.2Read in context »
You have been the Lord's chosen instrument, through whom He has worked, and will work for the saving of the souls of your children. You are to bear the testimony that John bore, repeating the words of Christ to love one another as Christ has loved them. The Holy Spirit will testify of their union with Christ, and believers and unbelievers will take knowledge of you that you have been with Christ and have learned of Him. As you follow on to know the Lord, you will reflect the character of Christ. TDG 39.3Read in context »
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 13:34. TDG 165.1
These words are not the words of man, but the words of our Redeemer; and how important it is that we fulfill the instruction that He has given! There is nothing that can so weaken the influence of the church, as the lack of love. Christ says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). If we are to meet opposition from our enemies, who are represented as wolves, let us be careful that we do not manifest the same spirit among ourselves. TDG 165.2Read in context »