Tuesday, February 12, 2019
”You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Shema Yisrael (Deut 6:4-5) is the most important prayer in Judaism: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” It defines the nature of God and our need to put Him first in every aspect of our being. When asked by a lawyer in Matthew 22:36-40 as to what is the greatest commandment, Jesus quoted the Shema. But He goes on to add that the second is like onto the first “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets.”
Jesus tells us the very nature of what God wants with us, this love of God and the love of our neighbor is the foundation wherewith we build our entire lives. This is what the scriptures show us over and over and over again. The Old Testament depictions of God’s interactions with His people in a very daily way. The New Testament teachings of Jesus, Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John that reveal what God’s intentions were in the Old Testament and explicitly tells us how to live by using those examples of success as well as failure. By example in His life, as well as in His death, Jesus showed us what “love thy neighbor” meant.
When we are truly free, as Paul writes to the Galatians, we are not bound or restricted to things we want or don’t want to do. When we speak about freedom, there are a number of things we can make erroneous assumptions about. We can mistake freedom with rights. We can mistake political ideals with spiritual ideals. We can mistake our individual agenda with God’s agenda. We must remember that it is God in whom we live, and move and have our being “ Acts 17:28”. The key to “love your neighbor as yourself” is our motive (which we erroneously call the golden rule – it is the God rule). Are we looking to get something out of our acts or show of love? Is it so we can get some satisfaction for a guilty conscience, a past hurt, to try to redeem some misdeed? We must remember Jesus is our Redeemer. It is only He who can, through His love, remove our hurt, our pain, our sin.
When we love and sacrifice for no other motive than to give to the needs of others, we then are true “co-workers in God’s work” (I Co 3:9). God’s work motive is love. Making you and me the absolute best we can be in Him. Our motive is to make the best for our neighbor. But remember God’s economics do not necessarily mimic ours. Are we willing to go with God?
Leviticus 19:17-18 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Gracious God, teach me to love. Teach me to love as You love. Teach me to love unselfishly and honestly. Teach me to look on others as You look on them and act, behave, and love them as You do. My love is failing, Yours is eternal. I want to know and experience that eternal love. Change my heart, my soul so that I may love you with all my heart, my soul, and my might. That I may know what obedience to the scriptures mean in my live. Amen.