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09 April 2012

Living in Love - 09 April

Last week we looked at the greatest commandment. We learned that we need to honestly commit our entire life to God. It’s not a “fuzzy” kind of love – it requires both obedience and service. It also requires us to surrender our thoughts, emotions and actions to the One who created the universe.  Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.

This week, we will consider the second greatest commandment and what it should look like in our lives.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Lev 19:18 (ESV)

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:39 (ESV)

Yikes! The Leviticus passage gives us more insight into the commandment. What aspects of your life need to be changed to reflect obedience to the command in Leviticus?

If you’re like me, you look for wiggle room … maybe you even ask “so who’s my neighbor”? Jesus didn’t give us much wiggle room when He answered the lawyer who tried to trip Him up.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 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.” 28 And he said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live. 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)

When Jesus told the lawyer that he had answered the questions correctly, we find that he tried to justify himself. Why do you think he needed to do that? Does Jesus’ reply show us that knowing the answer is enough?

Why do you think that Jesus spoke in parables? Would the point have been as clear had Jesus simply stated facts?

In Jesus’ time the Samaritans were the most despised group of people. They were shunned and hated simply because they were Samaritans. Yet this most despised man showed more compassion than his “friends” who left him for dead. A priest even avoided the scene. I’m sure that each person in the story had a “reason” to avoid the dying man, but Jesus’ point is clear. We are to show mercy on everyone – not matter their circumstances, or skin color, or nationality, or …

We are not to “affirm” people’s sins – but we are to reach out to people who are hurting or in need. They are sinners, just as we are, and we are to show them the same compassion that Jesus shows us.

How did the Samaritan show compassion?
·         Felt compassion,
·         Bandaged him,
·         Cleansed/medicated the wounds
·         Transported him to an inn
·         Told the innkeeper that he would pay any extra charges.

Not all of us are in a financial position like this Samaritan, but we can all show compassion as our finances allow. In what other ways can we show compassion?

How did the Samaritan’s actions show obedience to the second greatest commandment? Based on his actions, do you think that the Samaritan was operating on a desire to do good or simply obedience to the law?

So who is your neighbor? What type of attitude change will we need if the neighbor isn’t of our political party, religion, nationality, economic status?

I need to take some time to ask God’s forgiveness for times when I turned away from a neighbor because I didn’t like them, or didn’t understand them, or didn’t agree with them. I need to ask God to help me learn to be joyfully obedient to the second greatest commandment. I pray that you will also see areas in your life where you can ask for guidance to improve!

See you Wednesday.

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