Jesus set a little child in the midst of the disciples who had been arguing about who was the greatest among them, and taught them a lesson about being servants. I think what He told them is, “If you really want to be great, then put your arms around the next generation and serve them. My way is not self-fulfillment, but self-denial. My way is not independence, but interdependence.”
It took awhile for the disciples to realize the world would know them—not by how smart they were, not by how cutting-edge they were, not by what their generational and cultural preferences were—but by their love for one another.
“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, NKJV)
The New Testament never takes for granted that we know how to love. In Romans 12:9–21, a list of prescriptions is given to help us love one another—from entertaining strangers and showing hospitality to honoring one another and returning good for evil. The New Testament is very clear in outlining how we ought to love. So Christ reaches into us through our prayers, attitudes and actions to shape us and help us become loving people.
There are non-Christians who are very loving people. What makes Christian love different is that it does not flow out of emotion and feeling. It flows out of commitment. Christian love is known by its extent, by the degree to which it will go.
You may not be where you would like to be in your capacity to love and serve with love. But the fruit is developmental. It will take you where you are now and grow from there.