Saturday, May 23, 2009
On a random visit last year, my mother-in-law offered me a pair of Dockers she had bought for my father-in-law, since the pants had turned out to be the wrong size for him. Once I made sure the pants would fit me, I gladly accepted the offer and brought the pants home.
A week or so later, I decided to wear the pants to work. I removed the labels from the pants, touched up the ironing, put on the pants, and went on my way. (I know, I know, I didn't wash them first...)
Later on, in the middle of my work day, I happened to put my hands in the pockets of the pants, and felt a piece of paper. I pulled out the paper and realized it was the receipt from the purchase of the pants I was wearing.
The date of the purchase was printed on the receipt, and, much to my surprise, the date was five and a half years prior to the morning I pulled the labels off the pants.
My brand-new Dockers were actually five and a half years old!
They were both new and old at the same time.
A pair of pants that should have been well-worn, if not worn out, was still in mint condition, never used, never even tried on, forgotten for half a decade. The pants hadn't served their intended purpose for anyone in five and a half years.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." -- John 13:34-35
"Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning..." -- I John 2:7
Love one another.
A new commandment? An old commandment? Both?
The children of Israel had been commanded to love their neighbors as themselves centuries before Jesus' ministry (Lev. 19:18). So, it's certainly an old commandment in that sense. But Jesus made it new again by raising the bar of what the commandment means. When He talked about loving one another, the standard became, "as I have loved you". Who could have claimed to have already had that covered?
In another sense, as John reminds his readers, the commandment to love one another is old to every Christian, because it was introduced right along with the gospel, at the very beginning of each soul's walk with Christ (I John 2:7).
But, there is yet another sense in which this commandment is both new and old at the same time, and will be forever, for every Christian.
Like my "new" Dockers, the commandment to love one another is brand-new again each time we realize we've forgotten about it.
Maybe the commandment was accepted warmly, even eagerly, to be put into service to the blessing of others, only to find its way to the bottom of a drawer, out of commission and unaccounted for. Maybe the season or the fashion changed, and it just didn't seem like the right time to wear that garment.
For whatever reason, has the commandment to love one another, as Jesus loves us, fallen to the back of your mind, or been forgotten entirely?
Is it so taken for granted that we're content never to see it?
May it never be so.
Pray that our Father will make this old commandment new in our lives every day.