“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.”
We’ve talked a lot about the first great commandment lately. And we can talk about it all day long. I can’t stop talking about how crazy Jesus is about me and about you and how we are the apple of his eye! I just love it! But, I really don’t want to neglect the second great commandment. Because it’s incredibly important. Jesus asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves. I like to think of this in two parts:
- Loving your neighbor as yourself means forgiving and loving them as yourself.
So yesterday was Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. So, yesterday my drink order was forgotten at Starbucks and had to wait like 20 minutes for a coffee, was late back to work and was given inappropriate hand gestures from somebody driving on the interstate. And you know, it didn’t really bother me. I mean seriously, if i’m going to get ticked about that I’m really in trouble, because I’ve sinned too. There was a time in my life when I would have really overreacted in some of those situations, but I just don’t want to anymore. Look at this parable Jesus gave in Matthew 18:21-35,
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Well…that settles that.I might get frustrated internally (or just downright angry) when someone wrongs me in the world, but I know I’m a hypocrite if I blow up at them. That being said, please don’t think I have a handle on this one. For me, letting something go when some random guy does mean things to me on the highway is a LOT easier than when someone close to me does it…it always is right? Like spouses, family, or close friendships. And that one, I still struggle with. But that’s a subject long enough for a whole different post. The takeaway here, whether it’s our spouse or best friend, or some random person on the highway, is we need to love them as our self and be forgiving in consideration of the pardon of sin we have been given through the cross.
2. Loving your neighbor means sharing yourself with them
If you love someone else as yourself, you really lavish yourself on them. We care for ourselves, we love ourselves, we protect ourselves. God put an innate desire to care for ourselves in us when he created us. Paul used this in Ephesians 5:29 when talking about the same concept but as us the bride and Jesus our Bridegroom,
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.
God wants us to grow together, to grow up as children of God together into maturity. He wants that. John 17:21,
…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
This is the kind of intimacy, friendship and love Jesus wanted for his people. For us to be one as he and the Father are one. This is pretty deep intimacy and love were talking about when Jesus is saying he wants the same type of oneness for his people to have for each other as he has with the Father. We each have our own spheres of influence and people that God has allowed to come into our lives. The brothers and sisters in Christ in our spheres we really need to connect with, love them, encourage them, spur them on in Christ, and befriend them. We need to get messy with them, even if it means hour long conversations on the drive home to help someone process something. I know for some people personality differences can be a wedge here. I have several people that I’m close to that are “no drama” personality types and I have several other people in my life that wear their hearts on their sleeves. I’m not here to judge personality types, but I will say I’ve seen divisions in the church just because of personality differences. Literally that’s the only difference, not sin, not theological issues, only different personalities. It’s a problem and it’s only one example out of many problems that we struggle with in the pursuit of close intimacy in the body of Christ, the kind of closeness that Jesus desired and prayed for before he went to the cross.
The takeaway here I think is that we go on the offensive here. We become proactive. If you feel the Spirit nudging you on in this one here, then ask him, “Father who would you have me love today?” And let him provide you guidance on where to move. He’s in the business of loving others and I know he will answer a prayer of the heart like that from one of his children. I want to let the Spirit use me to help build a “home away from home” for others in my words, in my actions throughout my day, to love others, to love my brothers and sisters. If what I say and do helps them feel just a little bit like they are back home in the living room in our Father’s house at Jesus’ feet, then I’ve probably done my job. I really just want to point people to Jesus, and if we do that in love together, we can really accomplish great things in this world this side of Heaven.
I love writing these devos. I’m really sorry I missed yesterday. Monday was crazy busy. But I’m committed to doing them every day, so apologies for the missed entry! Aaaand, from a couple comments Johanna and I had on my last blog I said I would post a pic of me storm chasing…below is a pic I took from 2011. This was an EF4 tornado, max winds were probably at ~200 mph. My camera was really bad, we were closer than appears and just before this we were at about ~1/2 mile from it, but had pulled back just a touch to try to stay ahead of it and not lose it. I don’t know if I’ve experience many things more epic than driving fast down a highway, the static-y emergency broadcast system playing on the radio and tornado sirens blowing outside the car (it sounded like the world was ending) and then putting on some good music and going straight into a beast like this one! What a rush!!
Hope you all have a FANTASTIC day!! God bless and be the love and light of Jesus today to everyone you meet. You’re awesome, you’re crazy loved by Jesus, you’re beyond special, you’re the apple of his eye 🙂