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What does it mean to love one another?

In the Bible, there are many verses that tell Christians to love one another – but what does that mean? How are we supposed to do that? The world around us has many different ideas about what is loving and what is not loving. But what does God think is loving? How does God want us to love one another? Let’s look at the Bible and find out.

Love one another is important to God

Love is very important to God. In fact, when someone asked Jesus what the greatest, i.e. most important, commandment is, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).

God commands us to love one another

All throughout the Bible, the application of these general commandments to love God and love your neighbor, which means other people, are spelled out. In the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5), the first four commandments are about ways to love God, and the last six commandments are about ways to love your neighbor. Here’s a summary of those six:

  • Honor your father and your mother
  • You shall not murder
  • You shall not commit adultery
  • You shall not steal
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife… or anything that is your neighbor’s

We love one another by doing some things, like honor our parents and avoiding others, like murder, adultery, theft, lying, and jealousy. Even in those negative commandments – you shall not – there is the implication that we should do the opposite.

  • Instead of murdering others, we should seek to preserve and protect their lives
  • Instead of sleeping with people other than our spouse, we should be faithful and loyal to our spouse, and show respectful modesty and honor to other people
  • Instead of stealing, we should work to provide for ourselves and our families with honest work
  • Instead of lying, we should speak truthfully
  • Instead of being jealous of what others have, we should be happy for them and be content with what we ourselves have

The Bible is full of loving each other

There are many more places in the Bible that give examples of how to love one another. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). Elsewhere, Paul writes, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). And again, we are told to “Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-26).

Read the Bible to learn about love

These verses are just some of the many places in the Bible where we are instructed what it means to love one another well. Have you read the Bible? How many more practical examples can you find?

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How does this Bible teaching speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Read more How to show your friends Christian love?

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Karl Dahlfred

Karl Dahlfred has served as a missionary in Thailand with OMF International since 2006. From 2012-2016, he taught church history and missions at Bangkok Bible Seminary, assisted in editing and translation of Thai Christian books at OMF Publishers Thailand, and was a founding elder of Grace City Church, Bangkok. In 2017, he began a Ph.D in World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh. Karl earned a Masters of Divinity (M.Div) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology (Th.M) at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Karl is married and has three children.

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What does it mean to love one another?