All series long, we have been exploring the idea of love. There are many aspects of love as we have seen – God’s love for us, loving like Jesus, loving each other, and now what it means to love our neighbor.
Growing up, my brother and I would play with the neighbor kids all the time. We would hang out and play football, catch, and even made a makeshift tennis court in the street.
We also had our fair share of incidents. One time we broke a car window when we failed to catch the ball. That was not a fun experience. However, in the end, we were still neighbors.
The world is shouting, but no one seems to be listening.
”Owe nothing to anyone – except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” — Romans 13:8 (emphasis added)
Who is your neighbor?
Let that sink in for a minute.
- Physical neighbor?
- Your parents?
- Your siblings?
- Your friends?
- Your colleagues and boss?
What about your frenemy?
Jesus would say it's all of the above. Paul further says,
”…are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Romans 13:9b
All throughout the Gospels, Jesus says we should love our neighbors as ourselves.
If love was easy, we wouldn’t have divorce or broken relationships. In fact, we wouldn’t have any hurt, but love is not easy.
”Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater…” — Mark 12:31
Our society struggles with the commands. We put laws in place, and then we break them.
Jesus commands us to love our neighbor.
I often find it hard to “love my neighbor”, especially when I feel wronged or treated with disrespect. Unfortunately, misunderstandings occur on a daily basis and how we handle them reveals a great deal about us.
I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man had been beaten and robbed and was left for dead in the street. Several Jewish religious leaders came by and skirted to the other side of the road, and failed to help the man.
Then, a Samaritan man, passed by the same spot. The Samaritan’s and Jewish people were considered enemies. Instead of walking past the man, he loaded the injured man on his donkey and took him to a nearby town, and paid for his stay.
I want you to stop for a minute and ask yourself this question:
How many times have I walked by a hurting person, and did not stop?
If I am honest with myself, it is too numerous to count. This passage is meant to encourage us, and to spur us on to love and good deeds.
So, how do we love our neighbors?
We start by being a neighbor.
We start by having civil discourse on tough issues – listening to each side, instead of attacking each side.
We give a cup of cold water to someone who is hurting. We share a meal together and learn from each other.
We say, “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault” more than we should in order to protect the relationship.
Loving our neighbors includes sacrifice, and helping someone when they are hurting instead of walking around them.
This week, as you go about your day, look for ways you can love your neighbor. Ask God to show you how to help them that meets their needs at the right time.
Lord, thank you for the reminder to love my neighbor. I often get wrapped up in what I am doing that I forget to walk next door or across the street. Show me today how I can love my neighbor. Amen!