Read His Words Before Ours!
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Most of us have repeated the words countless times, so they roll off the tongue easily. But what does it really mean? Human nature urges us to draw the boundary line so we know what’s expected. We want to know exactly who we should consider our neighbors…and whether we consciously realize it or not, who we can exclude.
Let’s dig in a little deeper.
In this story, the title, citizenship and position of the people involved didn’t matter at all.
Jesus was showing the disciples God was not at all interested in labels that appeal to mankind; rather, His focus was heart posture. When Jesus told His disciples the parable of the good Samaritan, He didn’t hesitate to jump knee-deep into the hypocrisy of the age and point out the wrong heart motives hidden behind titles of priest and Levite.
Jesus was a master storyteller. Every word He spoke held great intention and profound revelation. He knew that because of their heritage, those listening would be predisposed to connect with the priest, or the Levite, and prejudiced against the Samaritan.
Make no mistake; His purposeful vagueness with regard to the man who was beaten and robbed was by design as well. Because it didn’t matter who he was or where he was from. Jesus was making the point that their neighbor, and ours, is anyone and everyone in need.
But what about those who don’t return our love?
What about those who will not love us the way we desire to be loved?
Dear friend. This may be a hard word to receive, but it’s absolutely vital that we grasp it. Those very questions are rooted in the great deception of our current age: that our faith is about us and how we feel. For the people in the back, I’ll say it again.
Our faith is not and can not ever be based on our feelings.
There never has been and never will be another human who will ever be able to fulfill in us the needs that God alone can fill.
As tempting as it may be to seek approval and fulfillment from those around us, our salvation can only ever be founded on Scripture alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone. This is the true gospel. The moment we begin to believe it is acceptable for our faith to be dictated by our feelings is the moment we begin to settle for a false gospel: the gospel of self.
Friends, we can not allow this to be so. The gospel message has never been about us beyond the salvation, freedom and whole heart, whole mind, whole life transformation Christ Jesus works in us when we submit ourselves to His hands.
In short, it doesn’t really matter how we feel.
Woo. Talk about counter-cultural. But the gospel has never been about fitting in or being comfortable, has it? Jesus himself assured us that to answer His call and follow Him required us to pick up our cross and die to self.
But what about those who harm us?
Jesus said to love them.
But what about those who persecute us? What about our enemies?
Jesus said to love them.
But what about when our spouse doesn’t show love or communicate the way we need? What if we have grown apart, or are simply incompatible?
Jesus said to love them.
We are each called to yield to the work of the cross as God performs the outworking of our faith, and to live and love the gospel out in every aspect of our lives. From the moment we accept the gift of salvation, we receive the impartation and installment of Holy Spirit inside us. This is something we can take absolutely no credit for, because none of it is possible in our own strength. Our part is only to submit to what He is doing and recognize all glory belongs to God alone!
However, as we go about our daily lives, there is an enemy who actively works to destroy, distort, and disengage us from the transformation Jesus desires to work in us. How does he do this? By introducing a thought pattern rooted in lies.
So what is the lie here?
You deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated.
Friend, the enemy loves to woo us with thoughts and ideas which glorify our feelings, ourselves, our needs, and our desires. He wants nothing more than to see us so completely wrapped up in ourselves and what we think and feel and need, that we miss what God has to say about anything. He’s sneaky, and a masterful liar, and Scripture tells us he prowls around like a lion, searching for anyone to devour. This lie is a prime example of how he works. He takes a tiny bit of truth, or even a big chunk of truth, and distorts it into something we want to hear.
Close enough to sound right, but just enough off course we miss the message.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do you catch the difference between the two statements, Love?
The lie is all about what serves us.
The truth is all about what serves others.
Because the Jesus we follow and submit to was a servant to all.
When we look at His life on earth, we can’t escape the fact the King of Kings chose humility and servanthood over control.
He chose righteousness over self-righteousness.
He chose holiness over being heavy-handed.
This is the truth, and cost, of our calling: we are called to love and serve all people.
Regardless of how they respond to and treat us.
No caveats; no excuses.
We are called to love!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!