6 June 2020
Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor

love thy neighborIf you had to answer how you should live your life with so much anger and adversity surrounding you, what would you say? Would you point to others faults and blame them for what’s going on in the world? Would you blame government or our President who seems to polarize opinions about him? Or would you choose a different path?

“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.'”
Luke 10:27

Last week, we wrote about Agape love. We talked about God’s love for us despite everything we deserve. We highlighted that loving other people despite their faults, makes us compatible not combative with them. Without looking too hard, I’ve seen at least 49 verses in the Bible about loving our neighbor. Why do you suppose it is so important to God to love each other?

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”
Isaiah 1:17

Each week, we share our posts on social media after we publish them on our blogsite. Some weeks, we promote our more relatable posts to a wider audience. Usually, that generates a lot of positive reactions from people. Last week there were a few exceptions. We received one response from someone who decided to attack us with curse words. He was furious that his FaceBook feed would actually contain something about God’s love. How dare we? We also received a derogatory comment from a proud atheist who was upset that we actually shared anything about our loving God. I began to wonder what kind of world do they prefer to live in? A world where it’s OK to cast insults to people while you’re hiding behind the anonymity of the internet? A world where you can curse and attack people because they don’t believe in the same things as we do? Isn’t that a big reason why we have so much intolerance and injustice in our society right now?

God’s greatest wish for us is to love Him and to revere Him. Only God sees the big picture. He knows our limitations and He knows what we’re capable of. God instilled the power of enduring love in our hearts. We have the ability to love God and others above every other thing on earth. We have the capacity to love each other to the same profound level that God loves us. The only way to imagine how much God loves us is to consider how much you love your wife, mother or father, son or daughter, brother or sister, or friend or neighbor. When you love someone so much that you can’t imagine life without them, you see an inkling of how much God loves us.

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 19:34

God is sovereign — this is His world. God’s been around for an eternity. We live here for an instant. God knows what makes this place tick and He knows what’s best for us. He knows that we are the Body of His church. We need to love, cherish, support, and encourage one another for the body to survive.

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12

Loving others means accepting who we are and who they are. Loving is serving and bonding with dedication, loyalty, and joy without any expectations. There is so much anger in our world. We distrust each other because we really don’t know each other. We are made in God’s image to love Him and love each other. It’s that simple. Throughout history, mankind has always made things more complicated on ourselves. The early church was founded on the the teachings and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not long after, the early churches showed examples of jealousy, envy, corruption, and distrust. Taking something simple and twisting it and breaking it, is something we’ve been doing for thousands of years.

Christ’s sacrifice is the purest example of love that has ever existed. Why can’t we follow His commands? We can’t we love as He loved? Today, more than ever, lets drop our egos and pride. Lets forget what puffs us up. Lets build up our neighbor.

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Highlights:

  • Are you challenged by loving other people? Do you show love or selfishness to the world? Are you OK with your feelings?
  • Do you look to God through your adversity? Do you look to God to fix things or as a helpless bystander?
  • When you are offended by something or someone, how do you respond? Are you OK with your reaction?

Key Applications:

  1. Identify what individual or group of people — you’re struggling to love.
  2. What feelings do you harbor against them?
  3. Think about what you’ve said or done to add to divisiveness. Pray for forgiveness. As Jesus said, “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.” (Matthew 15:18.)
  4. Convert your divisive feelings into a deliberate intention to love. Pray to God to transform anger into love, unforgiveness to forgiveness and fear to trust.

Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.