This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s message: Love God Love People (LISTEN HERE)
“The second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
With love of God fixed in the “greatest” position, Jesus shares the close second greatest command. Love your neighbor.
In other teachings of Jesus, he clearly shares that neighbor is anybody, including those in need and those that even are our enemies. The standard? “…as you love yourself.”
Jesus is implying that we know how to love ourselves. (Not minimizing emotional challenges that lead a person to hate their life and themselves. This needs professional help.)
So what does it mean to love ourselves? We want what’s best for us. We want to be treated with respect. We don’t want to be hurt by someone else. We want healthy committed relationships. We don’t want people taking what belongs to us. We want a strong reputation. We don’t want people conniving to take from us.
We love ourselves too much to want this, let alone allow this to happen.
So in essence Jesus is telling us, “If you know how to love yourself, apply the same to your interactions with others.”
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus teaches, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
The fact that both Matthew 22 and Matthew 7 “sum up the Law and the Prophets,” indicate that Jesus is using two phrases to encourage the same result: Love people.
The great thing about the Word of God, is we can look at other portions of Scripture to help make sure our human hearts are guided by the Word of God.
In Exodus 20, the Lord gives written commands to Moses. These 10 Commandments help understand what it means to Love God (1-3) and Love People (4-10).
Here they are:
If you want to be honored and respected, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
If you want to not be physically hurt, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
If you want commitment in relationships, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)
If you want your possessions safe, “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)
If you want your reputation strong, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)
If you don’t want others conniving to get what is yours, ““You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)
Every one of these commands the Lord gives teach us how to love our neighbor by simply putting into words how we ourselves would want to be treated.
Is it challenging to love our neighbor? Yes, because we often want to love ourselves but not our neighbor.
How do we face the challenge?
Remember that loving our neighbor is first and foremost an expression of our love for God. Secondly, how we love our neighbor is also an expression of how much we love ourselves.
Great love for God leads to great love for people.
Great love of self (in a healthy way) leads to great love for people.
Apply: Reflect: Is there an aspect to loving people that challenges you? What changes when you ask the question, “How would I like to be loved in this same situation?”
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for when I often fail to love the people around me. Take me back to your love to empower me to love people. Help me to love them even more than I love myself. AMEN.