“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:9-17)
When things are going well, we feel elated. When hardships come, we sink into depression. But true joy transcends the rolling waves of circumstance. Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the vine, and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful (John 15:1-2). The branches are all those who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit. When our lives are intertwined with his, he will help us walk through adversity without sinking into debilitating lows and manage prosperity without moving into deceptive highs. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily will keep us levelheaded, no matter how high or low our circumstances.
Because Jesus Christ is Lord and master, he could call us servants; instead, he calls us friends. How comforting and reassuring to be chosen as a friend of Jesus. Because he is Lord and master, we owe him our unqualified obedience. Yet Jesus asks us to obey him because we love him.
We are to love each other as Jesus loved us. You may never have to die for someone, but there are other ways you can practice sacrificial love: listening, helping, encouraging, giving. Prayerfully consider someone who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can, and then try to give a little more.