He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The verse says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is also the most difficult to follow. By neighbor it means everyone. Not just the people we like but everyone! Not easy to do. There are so many people that for one reason or another I would rather not love but God calls me to do so.
I hope that God teaches me every day how to love those that are hard for me.
I really think this section of Romans says it all. We don’t need to add to it …just follow it.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[e]12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[f] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 1
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for Ihave redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When my granddaughter was baptized the church made a full size banner that had her name on it and that quote. I have never forgotten it. Whenever I wonder if God knows that I am here or that any member of my family is here I remember that.
If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them.
Our society loves beauty. It has set a standard of what is beautiful. You must have wonderful features and a great body. This applies to men and women.
All the ads that we see tout ways for us to reach this standard. However, no one talks about the more important beauty….the beauty inside. It is the person who loves without reason. Acceptance is their middle name. They feel compassion for all and don’t judge.
This is the beauty that lasts. This is the beauty that God wants us to find.
Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
We are called to not judge other people….but we often forget that. Criticizing others can make us feel important or somehow”better than.” ‘m not thinking about the big things but the little everyday things like “why do she choose to wear that color” or “he always acts likes he’s in charge.” It is so easy to have these thoughts or make these comments.
God has told us to watch out about this. He has laid it on the line. If we do this then we will be judged also. We are better off cleaning up our own ideas and being careful to be kind. There is enough to clean up in ourselves to last us a lifetime.
Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Saint Augustine
We can pray to God and know that he will hear. We can depend on God. But we can’t sit back and do nothing. We are God’s hands and feet. Jesus didn’t just sit and expect people to come to him. He traveled, he reached out to the homeless, the downtrodden, the sick. He couldn’t have done that sitting in his home. He had to go out. We have to do the same. Sitting in the pew in church is a good thing to do but that is not our major task. We have to go out of the door and follow the steps of Jesus as he walked among the people.
I have often wondered how people manage to get along without some sort of faith. I definitely could not be an atheist. When things go wrong I need someone to share it with me. I have friends who do but sharing it with God is different. There is something special about leaning on God and knowing that I am loved and understood. I don’t know what people do who don’t have anything to fall back on. In my darkest moments I am held up and cared for. For me, God is there and always will be.
I am a member of a group who pray daily for others. The list of people can grow quite long but I try not to miss praying. Prayers for others is call Intercessory Prayer. I find that it can take the focus away from my problems and help me to see all the many needs in the world. I don’t always know what the need is but know that God is aware. I often ask for Jesus to heal all ills and make his presence felt in their lives. Praying for others is a blessing for me.
When we become part of a group we often want to show people how important we are. We want to be important in everyone’s eyes. We want to be special and accepted. So we set out to do things that make us stand out. The part we forget is it is not those things that make other people see us. It is our caring and our sharing of ourselves and our possessions and our love that set us apart. We gain the respect and admiration of others by how we show our caring.
We have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves and it is in this way that we are granted affection and love in return.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.[a]
With war always looming on the horizon, I wish that the whole world would hear words of peace. We must make God very sad with all the hatred and violence that goes on in the world some of the worst of it in the name of God. Even his faithful people don’t hear his voice. None of us are exempt.
The Hebrew word shalom means fullness having everything you need to be happy and fulfilled. It’s easy to be peaceful when you have everything you need. That’s where the world’s problems are. Not everyone has what they need much less what they want.
Christ tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If I want my neighbor to be happy and fulfilled as much as I want that for myself then things will be good.
Frederick Buechner says “for Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”
Prayer: Lord God of peace, let us grow in love toward you and our neighbor until wars cease and shalom rains. Support us with your Holy Spirit and surround us with your love, now and forever. Amen