Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love thy Neighbor

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, told us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This simple command was so important that it was repeated in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Our Lord teaches that it is the second most important command for God’s people to obey. So, why is it so difficult a task to master? We are by nature selfish beings and since birth we have demanded constant nurturing and attention. Placing anyone else before our own personal wants and desires is contrary to one’s human nature. But, if we try to succeed in this task alone, we are destined to fail. It is only through Christ, that we can accomplish this charge. In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When we foolishly try to accomplish these things of our own volition, pushing away the Lord, placing one’s self above Him, is when we will fall short.

To truly love someone is to place them before one’s self. We attend to our loved one’s needs, trying to anticipate their desires, and to fulfill them, even before taking care of ourselves. The object of our love becomes our soul reason for living. This is how our love should be directed at our Lord. When our love is directed to our Lord it completes us. Our Lord loves us so much that He wants to have a full relationship with us. Everything we have, ourselves, our time, and our possessions, are gifts from God. This entire world was created for us by our Father. His love for us is unending. Our Lord gave everything for us, including His life. In the ultimate act of tough love, He sent His only begotten Son to earth as a mortal human being, to suffer and die in our stead. Every piece of flesh torn from our Lord’s body was done so that we would not have to endure the eternal punishment that we so rightly deserve. This was done out of His unconditional love for us. Every sin He carried to the cross belonged to each one of us. Then as our Lord hung on the cross, bleeding and dying, God terminated His relationship with Jesus, leaving Him to die alone with the awful burden of our sins. But, out of that depth of desolation sprang our salvation. Because Jesus suffered the penalty for our sins, died in our place, and was victorious over death, we can now have eternal life with Him.

This salvation is offered freely. We need only to accept, believe and love our Lord. His love for us is beyond all human understanding. Why then is it so difficult to love our neighbors? Why can’t we lift up our brothers and sisters in prayer and in service? Why is it so difficult to speak out for our Lord, who loves us so deeply? With everything God has done for us we should not have to think twice before answering the Spirit’s call and place our neighbor before ourselves. With God’s help, we should strive to reach out to those that need assistance, not only with the physical world, but especially for their spiritual health and well being. The Lord said in Matthew 25:36 “The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Many of our brothers and sisters are falling prey to the false doctrine of bound conscience. By not lifting up their voices to stand up for Scripture as it is assaulted and transformed to fit the needs of the secular world, they are acquiescing to that false gospel. If our Lord can suffer and die for us, we should be able to defend His Word against this false teaching. As our Lord loves us, and through His love, we must support God’s Word and open the eyes of those that would continue on the slippery slope of this modern and enlightened society’s new norms that contradict Scripture. Eternity is a long time and speaking out for our Lord to help our neighbors return to the narrow road that leads to salvation, is the very least that we can do.

1 comment:

  1. Don, you're right on! During lent and particularly during Holy Week, I am so humbled by my inability to thank Him.

    In a recent bible study, we talked about our own wanderings in the wilderness and how there are times when it feels that God is not with us. How much more impactful then, are Jesus words, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus took on the sin of the world, past, present and future. With all that sin, he hung on the cross and God was not with him! This level of dispair is unimaginable to me and I feel helpless to show my appreciation. I think of the Paul Balouche song, "What can I do but thank you! What can I do but give my life to you, Hallelujah!"

    With that gratitude comes a responsibility. It is our responsibility get out of the boat that society puts us into and boldly walk on water to stand up for the timeless truth in scripture.