Love your neighbor as yourself.
In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked by one of the Pharisees, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
He really didn’t want the answer that Jesus gave him. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5. 37 He said to him 38 “This is the greatest and most important command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Then He added the second part from Leviticus 19:18, 39 "The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." And finally, He adds the phrase 40 "All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” This is referring to the first five books of what we know of as the Torah or the Book of Moses, and the last 17 books of the Old Testament, “The Prophets”. The man’s goal was to trap Jesus into saying something that they could use against Hm. Jesus, however, knew what they were doing and used scripture to answer them.
These same commands apply to us today. The first one, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This command would seem like the easier of the two to say yes to, but is it? Do you put the Lord in the position of being first in your life? Sobering thought is it not? When we stand before the Lord in the “judgement” can we say yes, Lord, I put you first in my life, or will we have to be honest and tell Him that we put something else in that place?
Now to the one that I really want to address.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I guess the first question we have to ask is, “Who is my neighbor?” Okay, the people in the house next door… I like them. Sure, I can love them as I love myself. Question resolved.
What if I told you that that’s not what Jesus is talking about. Yes, we have neighbors that are in our community, but the word “neighbor” in this case means those that we come in contact with as we work or play.
Does that put a different spin on the “Love your Neighbor as yourself”? Yeah, it does. That means the guy on the street corner that has the sign, the gruff older man that seems to bite you when you say “Good Morning”, or the clerk in the grocery store that is having a bad day.
What would it take to change the way they react to you? A pleasant smile? A kind word? Neither of those cost you anything and that could be a start. The guy with the sign? If you’re a guy and God prompts you, a buck or two or buy him a meal. I said if you’re a guy on that one. Ladies, I will tell you that that’s not safe for you to do unless you have a friend with you that is a gentleman.
This week, do something nice for someone. Write a note of encouragement to someone, take a friend to coffee. Say a kind word to the clerk at the store or be a friend to the “Grumpy Gus”. The world is a tough place to be in these times, and we need to tell others that there is a better way. God’s way!
We can do that by our actions. There’s a children’s song we use to sing with the kids,
“This Little Light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine!”
That “Light” is the Light of Christ in us …Let it shine so the world can see it!