The following are guidelines for living as redeemed people in a fallen world. We are to:
Give Ourselves To God As Living Sacrifices (Part 1);
Obey The Government (Part 2);
Love Our Neighbors (Part 3); And
Take Special Care Of Those Who Are Weak In The Faith (Part 4).
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS
In Matthew 22:39, Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 5:43-45 says “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
In John 15:17, Jesus said “This is my command: Love each other.”
WHAT IS LOVE?
Romans 12:9-21 says “9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
Luke 10:27-37 says “27 He answered, ‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
28 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' 30 In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two Denari and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' 37 The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'”
LOVE, FOR THE DAY IS NEAR
Romans 13:8-14 says “8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not covet,' and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
WHY IS LOVE FOR OTHERS CALLED A DEBT?
We are permanently in debt to Jesus Christ for the lavish love He has poured out on us. The only way we can even begin to repay this debt is by loving others in turn.
Because Christ's love will always be infinitely greater than ours, we will always have the obligation to love our neighbors.
SELF-LOVE IS NOT WRONG
Somehow, many of us have gotten the idea that self-love is wrong. But if this were the case, it would be pointless to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Even if you have low self-esteem, you probably don't willingly let yourself go hungry. You clothe yourself reasonably well. You make sure there's a roof over your head if you can. You try not to let yourself be cheated or injured. And you get angry if someone tries to ruin your marriage or relationships.
This is the kind of love we need to have for our neighbors. Do we see that others are fed, clothed, and housed as well as they can be? Are we concerned about issues of social justice?
Loving others as ourselves means to be actively working to see that their needs are met. People who truly love themselves and who focus on others rather than themselves rarely suffer from low self-esteem!
Finally, In John 13:34, Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
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