12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
17 This is my command: Love each other.
Anyone who has tended any type of plant, garden, vineyard, orchard or crop, can attest to the importance of cultivating the soil and intentionally nurturing delicate vegetation throughout every stage of growth. It’s not always easy and sometimes sacrifices have to be made as we leave the comfort and warmth of our homes to go out and pull weeds, implement pest control, water, trim, harvest, as well as sometimes covering our plants to protect them from whatever weather or storms are at hand. However, we persevere because of the light of hope that one day we will see the results of our labor.
It is no accident that many parables in the Bible use seeds, planting crops, and managing vineyards as the subject matter for the stories Jesus would use in his teachings. The love and care it takes to raise up a good crop is the same type of effort we need to give to our day to day relationships. In John 15:12, Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
The next verse tells us the greatest expression of our love is to give one’s life for his friends. Jesus did more than teach this principle; he actually lived it out. It’s exactly what Jesus did for us. We may never be asked to die for one of our loved ones, but are we at least showing them the same type of love through the way we nurture and care for them?
So, I have to ask myself, “Do I extend my love and care for others beyond the borders of my own garden? Does what I do measure up to the example Jesus gave us in Scripture?”
In verses 13-16, we are given five characteristics of what we can emulate to show genuine love to those who are both intimately involved in our lives and those who only cross our path for but a moment:
1) Genuine love is sacrificial. A sacrifice is the act of giving up something precious for the good of another.
2) Genuine love is demonstrated through willing obedience and is the expression of a willing heart, not a grudging heart.
3) Genuine love always communicates the truth. Sometimes we must be very careful in doing this because truth can be painful.
4) Genuine love will cause us to take the initiative in meeting the legitimate needs of others.
5) Genuine love will always bear fruit with abiding results.
As followers of Jesus Christ and His teachings, our goal should be to produce fruit that is both abundant and enduring. In order for us to accomplish that task, we need to be diligent to insure we produce quantity (an abundance), and we need patience to ensure quality so that our fruit endures to make an impact on those we are serving.
Both virtues working together (diligence and patience) are of utmost importance. Being active without diligence and results is just busy-work; busyness does many things, but nothing well, and patience unaccompanied by diligence easily degenerates into laziness.
Bearing fruit is in our honorable nature as living beings, but it has even more importance as we come to understand why we need to follow this call. First, as we bear fruit, we are passing forward our faith into the lives of those we are serving. This is one way we show gratitude to God for all He has done. Producing fruit is also where we find true joy and fulfillment. Jesus even says that His joy will remain in us and our joy will be full!
In verse 17, Jesus reiterates His command that we love one another. Love is the great motivator in the Christian life. I pray that you will nurture and cultivate your love for others, and allow it to mature as you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Our hope is that you produce abundant and lasting fruit that will impact not only your family today, but also the generations to come!