Week Four - Day Two
Love as a Lifestyle
Luke 10:25-28 - And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
1 John 3:17 - But if anyone has the world‘s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God‘s love abide in him?
Matthew 5:43-48 - “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.
In Luke 10, the lawyer quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, wanting to prove to Jesus that he correctly understands the demand of the Torah (the Jewish law) for total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor. The Jews defined their neighbors as anyone within the Jewish nation. The Torah does tell the Israelites to help their enemy with his animals if the animal is in trouble (see Exodus 23:4-5), but it does not strictly command the Israelites to love those outside the Israelite nation. You can see where the lawyer was being quite picky and felt justified in the idea that he had kept the Law.
Jesus, however, blows the Jewish-held definition of “neighbor” wide open with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was already known for his radical idea of love from his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-48. His explanation of what it meant to love and be a neighbor were revealing the true heart of God behind these commands written centuries prior. Jesus includes both Samaritans and enemies in his command to love. Therefore, according to Jesus, our neighbors include anyone and everyone. We are to bless all of those around us, doing good towards them, showing them kindness, and praying for them.
This is not something that we can accomplish in our own strength; it requires the work of God’s Holy Spirit flowing through us and the fruit of his Spirit flowing from us.
• What prevents you from “loving your neighbor”? Are there people in your life you find difficult to love? Who are they and why is that? How can you love them today?
• Pray for God to give you his heart and love towards them.