Sunday, May 31

Love your neighbor as yourself

Scripture: Proverbs 19-21, Romans 13

Romans 13:8–10 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. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

Observation

First, we have an obligation to love one another.  We owe it to one another and to God.  We owe it because God created us to love one another—it is woven into the very fabric of our nature and the world we live in.  Failure to love tears that fabric—everyone suffers when we don’t love, including us.  And we owe it to one another because Jesus redeemed us.  We owe it to Him to love those He loves.  

Second, when we love our neighbor, we fulfill God’s law.  All the commandments can be summed up in this: love your neighbor as yourself.  Paul, of course, got this from Jesus who said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself, and that all of the law and prophets were summed up by this.  

Third, love does no wrong to others.  Or said positively, love does good for others.  Love does what is best for another no matter what it costs you.  Paul adds that this is why love fulfills the law—because it does no wrong to others.  Paul clearly believed that God’s law was about doing good, and since love does what is good for others, it fulfills God’s law.

Application

First, I want to remind myself with each person I meet that I owe this person my love.  I owe it to them; I owe it to Jesus.  That is a striking thought!  I like to pay my debts quickly.  So this motivates me to get after it!

Second, Jesus (and Paul here) simplified my focus: love my neighbor as myself.  Rather than trying to remember and do hundreds of commands, I just have one: to love my neighbor as myself.  

Third, I love the practicality of this definition of love!  It is doing good, not wrong or harm.  I don’t have to feel something to love someone; I have to do something.  I must do what is good for them.  

My focus today is to love my neighbor as myself.  It’s a good focus for me as I try to engage redemptively with people in our community who are angry about George Floyd’s death and a long history of racial injustice.  I’m going to love people.

Prayer: Lord, help me today to love others as myself.  And help people of goodwill prevail today—let love win over anger and hatred.  Help us demonstrate Your love to our community.