We can’t shepherd our churches until we learn to love people the way Jesus does.
Jesus is the best model for loving others. That’s why he tells us to do as he does: “I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you” (John 13:34 GW).
So what can we learn from how Jesus loves others?
- We must accept others like Jesus accepts us.
Followers of Jesus should be the most accepting people in the world. As pastors, we need to lead the way.
The starting point of accepting others like Jesus does is to truly realize how much God accepts you. You’ve likely preached about it, but you need to truly understand how accepted you are by God.
Jesus tells us unequivocally in John 6:37 that we’re accepted no matter what we’ve done. “The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them” (NCV).
The truth is, you can be a Jesus-follower your entire life and not truly realize you’re accepted by God. You can be a pastor and not acknowledge this truth either.
Because Jesus loves us unconditionally, we need to love others likewise. You can accept people without approving of how they’re living. Jesus did this with the woman caught in adultery. He accepts her just the way she is—sin and all, but he doesn’t leave her in the sin. Jesus tells her, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11 NLT).
- We must value others like Jesus values us.
Every person we meet has infinite value to God. We’re all so valuable to God that he created us, Jesus died for us, he put his spirit in us, and he wants us to live with him for eternity.
Jesus says this in the Gospel of Luke, “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7 NABRE).
Our value comes from two factors. First, God created us. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are “God’s masterpiece” (NLT).
Second, our value comes from what God paid for us. The Bible says God gave the life of his son for us (1 Peter 1:19).
God doesn’t just love you enough to create you and send his son to die for you. He did that for every person on the planet. We need to treat people like we understand God made them and Jesus died for them.
If Jesus loved people by valuing them, so should we.
We can do that by consistently looking at and listening to the people with whom we’re interacting. That’s simply being polite.
- We must forgive others like Jesus forgives us.
God doesn’t keep grudges. He is never trying to get even with us. Jesus paid all the costs for everything we’ve done wrong.
God planned to do that long before you were born. Ephesians 1:4 says this, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (NLT).
God had a plan for the guilt in our lives long before we took our first breath.
Because God forgave us, he expects us to forgive others. The Bible says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).
We don’t always want to make allowances for others. We’d love to be able to come down hard on people who mistreat us. But the Bible tells us to do just the opposite.
- We must believe in others like Jesus believes in us.
We all have insecurities. Studies show that the younger you were when you first faced rejection, the more seriously it impacts your life.
How do you reverse that curse? By believing what Jesus says about us instead of what other people say about us. The Bible describes the kind of persistent love we should have for others that builds people up rather than tearing them down.
If you love someone, you will be loyal to them no matter what the cost. You will always believe in them, always expect the best of them, and always stand your ground in defending them (1 Corinthians 13:7).
That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. When he looks at us, he doesn’t see us for who we are. He sees us for what we could become—he sees our growth.
Jesus constantly tells us that he believes in us:
- “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).
- “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23 NIV).
- “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more” (Matthew 21:21 NLT).
The Bible is clear—God is cheering us on.
Instead of labeling us, he brings out the best in us by telling us who we are in him.
Then he asks us to do likewise. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV).