Loving other people doesn’t mean being “in love” with everyone. “Warm-fuzzy” love is easy — until the emotion starts to fade, that is. But the human love the Bible talks about isn’t just a passing emotional state. It’s something based on choice. We choose to care about another person’s welfare, even if that person has hurt us, called us names, ignored us.
Parents understand this kind of love, for they keep loving their children even when the children don’t seem to love them back. It is similar — but not as steadfast — as God’s love for us. He loves us when we aren’t at all lovable and then commands us to return the favor — that is, love other people as he loves us, and make giving, not getting, the goal of our love.
Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17
“Do for others as you would like them to do for you.
“Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:31-36
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “`You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, `Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:25-28
Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting — and any other commandment — are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Romans 13:8-10
If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Love will last forever, but prophecy and speaking in tongues and special knowledge will all disappear. For even our special knowledge is incomplete, and our prophecy is incomplete. But when the end comes, these special gifts will all disappear.
It’s like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.
There are three things that will endure — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 1 John 5:1-2
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself – Crosswalk the Devotional
by Kelly Givens
“And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ – Matthew 22:35-39
I live in an apartment complex, and new tenants have recently moved into the rental directly below me. I haven’t met them yet, but I do know one thing about them: they have an incredibly close relationship with their bass speakers. If you’ve ever had neighbors with a big sound system, you’ll know why I’m frustrated. While other sound waves bounce off or are absorbed by the objects around them, bass sound travels right through. So while I can’t hear the words of the song my neighbors are blasting, I can feel the floor vibrating to the irregular heart-beat like bumps of the bass. It’s the kind of sound that even earplugs can’t always drown out–which is especially annoying at 1 o’clock in the morning.
Situations like these tempt me to toss aside every sermon I’ve heard on patience, gentleness and self-control and start banging on the floor with a broom handle. But this is completely antithetical to what Christ demands. Jesus’ message to “love your neighbor as yourself” is a verse that often gets thrown out there without a lot of thought. However, I’m starting to realize there are major implications of truly loving someone the way I love myself.
How do I love myself? Well, for starters, I’m always thinking about myself. I think about what I’m going to eat for breakfast, what I need to do at work, what I need to pick up from the store on the way home. I also love myself by making my needs top-priority. How I schedule my day revolves around the things I want or need to accomplish. Basically, my thoughts and my day are centered on me.
So when Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, that’s a tall order. He’s saying we need to think about others as much as we think about ourselves. He means we should remember the needs of others like we remember our own. He means seeking the happiness, goodness, peace, security of others as much as we seek those things in our own lives.
How can we do this- especially to those who annoy us, hurt us, or perhaps even persecute us? When I think about loving my neighbors as sacrificially, as a priority number one, it seems impossible. I can’t even say I do this fully for the people I love most. But then I remember the first part of Jesus’ command- ‘Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.” There’s my answer. When I focus all my love toward God, he takes my selfish heart and transforms it into a heart capable of loving others. I no longer need others to validate me, be kind or loving toward me in order to love them back. Christ’s love is enough. He fills me up so I can pour out selfless love to others, even others with loud bass speakers.
This selfless love isn’t something I’m good at- it’s not even something I can say I regularly attempt. I’m more selfish than I realize. But God has been using my noisy neighbors to convict my selfish heart, to show me how much better I can be at putting the happiness and peace of others above my own. I know it’s not going to be easy to start loving people as much as I love myself, but I know the first step: loving God above everything else.
Who’s My Neighbor?
“And he [the lawyer] 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.’ And he [Jesus] said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” Luke 10:27-29 (ESV)
I was a 10-year-old girl sporting a neon windbreaker and a perm when I received the greatest news of my life: winning my first solo in the church musical.
I had tried out for every single solo and musical production our church produced, but always came up short … until this time. The best part? My solo was being recorded at a real music studio. I could hardly take the excitement.
The musical director loaded all the kids in the van who were singing in the ensemble for the recording, but only I had the coveted solo. As I sat in the back of the van dreaming about my big debut, one of the girls from the ensemble loudly declared, “The only reason Tracy got the solo is because she’s the pastor’s daughter.” All the kids laughed in agreement. My joy turned to humiliation and sadness as I stared out the window of the van so none of the kids could see my tears.
I took the pain of those words and decided to make that young girl pay. From that point on, I purposefully excluded her from slumber parties and play dates and created a coup with my friends to do the same. It all seemed to be working out nicely until the fateful day my mom discovered what I had been up to, and she announced I would be throwing the very girl who wounded me with her words a birthday party.
Then my mom had me use my hard-earned babysitting money to buy party favors, decorations and even a birthday present for my rival. I’ll never forget the look on that girl’s face when we surprised her with a party.
In our key passage today (Luke 10:27-29), we see a lawyer who’s desperately trying to rationalize the terms of the Great Commandment. He asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” To the lawyer, only Jewish neighbors were his neighbors.
To Jesus, everyone is a neighbor!
Jesus turns the tables, and instead of answering the lawyer’s question, He tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you remember the story, a man was beaten, robbed, stripped and left for dead on the road. Three men walked by and saw the half-dead man on the side of the road, but only one of them, the Samaritan, stopped to help. Jesus then asks the lawyer:
“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36, ESV)
We live in a world that begs the question: Who’s my neighbor?
In other words, can we just get a list of the people we have to love? Because frankly, it would be easier if we just knew the A-list, B-list and C-list of those we have to love and who we can just exclude in our day-to-day life.
If someone has hurt me, I prefer to exclude him or her from my neighbor list. But when Jesus asks the lawyer who “proved to be a neighbor,” He isn’t asking, “Who do you feel like loving today?” He’s asking, “Are you a neighbor?” He’s smoking out the biases in the lawyer’s heart — and the biases in ours as well.
My mom taught me an invaluable lesson: No matter what people say to me or do to me, I can choose to be a neighbor. As a 10-year-old, I “chose” to be a neighbor (mostly because my mom made me). I sure wish I could tell you I’ve never walked past another person again, but I’m not there yet.
Each day we’re confronted with the choice to be a neighbor to someone we don’t like or worse, one who’s hurt us. Jesus is asking all of us today, Are we willing to be a neighbor? Because our world could sure use more neighbors.
Streams in the Desert – February 11
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
As soon as the soles of the feet of the priests… shall rest in the waters… the waters shall be cut off (Joshua 3:13).
The people were not to wait in their camps until the way was opened, they were to walk by faith. They were to break camp, pack up their goods, form in line to march, and move down to the very banks before the river would be opened.
If they had come down to the edge of the river and then had stopped for the stream to divide before they stepped into it, they would have waited in vain. They must take one step into the water before the river would be cut off.
We must learn to take God at His Word, and go straight on in duty, although we see no way in which we can go forward. The reason we are so often balked by difficulties is that we expect to see them removed before we try to pass through them.
If we would move straight on in faith, the path would be opened for us. We stand still, waiting for the obstacle to be removed, when we ought to go forward as if there were no obstacles.
What a lesson Columbus gave to the world of perseverance in the face of tremendous difficulties!
Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good Mate said: “Now we must pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!'”
“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak!”
The stout Mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why, you shall say at break of day,
‘Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!'”
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the Mate:
“This mad sea shows its teeth tonight.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word;
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck
And peered through darkness. Ah! that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck–
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
Faith that goes forward triumphs.