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Genuine Love

“‘And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.“”  Mat 22:37-40.

Love is the foundation of the Christian life.  First of course we are to love God with all we are.  Mar 12:30 says “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”  This was in answer to a question from a Jewish scribe regarding which commandment is the most important of all.  He then adds the commandment about loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Now, we know that the scribe was looking for a specific commandment within the law.  However, what Jesus did was encapsulate the entire law in these two commands.  “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  Mat 22:40.  What Jesus did here was essentially say that the Law is not something you obey as a set of rules, but as a display of love, both to God and our fellow man.  It is important to understand that man is not saved by means of a set of rules, for there is nothing ‘we‘ can do to be perfect.  It is only by believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.  Through this, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, and this righteousness is perfect and the only way to be reconciled to the Father.

So, how do we love the way these two commandments tell us?  Well, let’s look at the first one.  Loving God with all we are is to put Him first in every area of our life.  Nothing must usurp the will of God.  It means to desire fellowship with Him at all times.  To worship and adore Him, to desire to please Him in everything we do.  We must love Him more than anyone else.  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Mat 10:37.  Also, we must love Him more than our own life, and be willing to sacrifice our own life for Him and His kingdom.  “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  Mat 10:38.  In other words, using a phrase I absolutely love, “We must be all in, and if we are not, we are not in at all.”

Now, how do we love our neighbor as our self?   First, we must follow the Golden Rule.  “”So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Mat 7:12.  Notice that Jesus uses the same phrase as He used in His answer to the scribe.  This again shows following the law as intended is not legalism but an exhibition of love to all. Now, we do not wish any harm or evil on ourselves, therefore we must not desire them for others.  How would we want to be treated under certain circumstances is how we are to treat others.  It goes without saying that what we desire would need to be of a Godly nature.  So, if you are hungry you would want something to eat.  Therefore feed others who are hungry.  If you are ill, you would desire someone to care for you, wouldn’t you?  Of course you would.  Therefore, you need to care for others who are sick.  What if you wronged someone, whether intentionally or not.  Would you want grace and forgiveness from that person?  Then give grace and forgiveness to those who wrong you, intentionally or not.  Next, we must not let our feelings get in the way.  God commands us to love everyone.  Therefore, even if we do not feel like it, we must love anyway.  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said the following.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”  Mat 5:43-47.  Also, we are called to love our enemies as well as our friends or acquaintances.  Continuing forward from the above verses, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Mat 5:43-48.  Love is not something we can choose depending on who.  We must love all; friends, family, acquaintances, strangers and enemies.

In closing, loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves is the best way we can be a light in the darkness of this world.  What better way to show the love of God then to exhibit the reality of our faith by living it in opposition to a narcissistic culture that thinks only of themselves over anyone else.  Whatever we do for a brother or sister in Christ in need, we have done for Christ.  Whatever we do for an unsaved person in need will show them we care and desire the very best for them and give them a reason to listen to the truth we proclaim.  And most importantly, showing love like this is living life in the will of God, for that is what He desires of us.  And this should be a lifestyle and not a periodic event.  And I can promise you will be absolutely satisfied and content because this is exactly why we are here. To show the world the truth by pointing them to Christ.

 

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