OUT OF ORDER! – Why is “loving our neighbor” so important?

How do we LOVE our NEIGHBOR as OURSELVES?

Maybe the better question to ask would be:

What would happen if God loved us in the same exact way that we love others?

Not exactly the question the title asks, is it?

Oh sure, when we look at ourselves and take a self-inventory, we like to think that we are super magnanimous . . . but are we?

  • Does God use love a a weapon?
  • Does God withhold love unless He gets what He wants?
  • Does God’s love come and go with every whim?

In other words, is God’s love conditional?

Before you answer that, let me remind you of a couple of things:

  • God is love! It is the very essence of who and what He is!
  • Lack of love is darkness and there is no darkness in Him!
  • Mercy is the foundation of love . . . without mercy there can be no love! The text tells us that God is full of mercy and loving-kindness (grace)!

So again, what would happen if God loved us like we love others – in the same way that we love others?

God is love . . . is HE conditional?

Let’s keep this thought in the back of our heads as we explore some of the central tenets of the text.

Yeshua (Jesus) was asked what THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND in the text was . . . this was His answer:

Deuteronomy 6:5 (CJB)
5  and you are to love Adonai your God

with all your heart, all your being and all your resources.

And then Yeshua (Jesus) adds a second one:

Leviticus 19:18 (CJB)
18  Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people;

rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai.

Why did Yeshua (Jesus) add the 2nd command? Isn’t the first a sufficient answer? Doesn’t it encompass everything we need to know?

Let’s throw an understanding into the mix from 1st John:

1 John 4:20 (CJB)
20  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.

For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen,

then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

Pretty substantial and significant understanding, isn’t it? You must love your neighbor to love God! In fact, when Yeshua (Jesus) adds this second command, He doesn’t stop there. He give us a reason for including the 2nd command as well:

Matthew 22:40 (CJB)
40  ALL of the Torah and the Prophets are DEPENDENT on these two mitzvot.”

Think about it . . . If we look at what is being said, it actually explains 2 things:

  1. We can’t honor the MOST IMPORTANT command to love God with everything we have until we love our neighbor first . . . this is why the 2nd is included.
  2. Understanding, living, and applying what we read in the text of Adonai is DEPENDENT on loving our neighbor and loving God with all we have.

And maybe you have missed another subtle nuance of what is being said here. If so, let’s point it out so that there are no misunderstandings:

Love is command, not a feeling . . .

Culturally, and by today’s human standard, love may indeed be defined and understood as a feeling. And that is part of the problem . . .

Society has redefined love from a command into a feeling . . .

****** ****** ******* *******

I have to take a short sidebar . . . I wrote the above this morning before we left to try out a new assembly of believers . . .

The pastor’s sermon topic?

God’s Purpose for your life

A main focus of that teaching? Love God with all your mind, strength, and soul . . . 🙂

He also went over more of what I was writing this morning when he asked,

WWJD? (What would Jesus do) . . .

Coincidence? Never have believed in coincidences concerning the Creator of all things . . .

Affirmation? I do believe in those concerning the Creator of all things!!! 🙂

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So as I pointed out in the text above, love is a command. It is a command that EXPRESSES itself in a life lived by the Spirit. You may or may not have read my post on What Galatians might look like if it was written today and in today’s language:

https://evenifministries.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/what-the-entire-letter-to-the-galatians-might-look-like-if-it-was-written-today/

In it, we find that a life lived by the Spirit expresses itself through the following:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • humility
  • self control

Love is at the top of the list. A list in which the Torah of Adonai can find no faults. It is an ordering of our lives in the Spirit. Make no mistake, when love is NOT at the top of this order, then our Spirit ordered lives are in reality:

out of order

The question was asked in the text just like it is asked today . . .

WHO is my NEIGHBOR?

Yeshua (Jesus) clears this all up for us so that we never have to ask this question again:

Matthew 5:43-48 (CJB)
43  “You have heard that our fathers were told,

Love your neighbor — and hate your enemy.’

44  But I tell you, love your enemies!

Pray for those who persecute you!

45  Then you will become children of your Father in heaven.

For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike,

and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

46  What reward do you get if you love only those who love you?

Why, even tax-collectors do that!
47  And if you are friendly only to your friends,

are you doing anything out of the ordinary?

Even the Goyim do that!

48  Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Who is my neighbor? EVERYONE! Friend, family . . . yes, even your enemy!

And in case you don’t understand why, lets go to Romans 12. I amplified and expounded this chapter in the following post:

https://evenifministries.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/romans-12-expounded-and-amplified/

We are told how to behave toward people that harass us – who trouble us – who bring evil on us:

12:14 Request God’s favor for those that harass, trouble and are in hostile pursuit of you: Request God’s favor for them and don’t invoke evil (imprecate) on them or hope some supernatural power will cause them harm.

There is a reason for this. Because to do anything less – to pay back harm for harm (vengeance – revenge etc) is one of the main character traits of someone that is WITHOUT God:

12:17 No one should return or pay back wrong, harm or wickedness,

which is a characterization of godlessness, for wrong, harm or wickedness.

Love does NOT do this. Followers of Messiah do NOT do this. Godly people do NOT do this.

As we learned earlier, God is Love!

This is what love is:

Love is

  • patient and
  • kind,
  • not jealous,
  • not boastful,
  • not proud,
  • not rude or
  • not selfish,
  • not easily angered, and
  • it keeps no record of wrongs.
  • It does not gloat over other people’s sins  but
  • It takes its delight in the truth.
  • It always bears up,
  • It always trusts,
  • It always hopes,
  • It always endures.

Love NEVER ends! 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CJB)

In fact, concerning “Love keeps no record of wrongs” above, I wrote a post some time back that may help you see why:

https://evenifministries.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/love-cant-exist-when-youre-keeping-a-list/

We are told at the beginning of this list that “Love is Patient” and since you know that God is Love, you know that God is Patient. Do you know why?

2 Peter 3:9 (CJB)
9  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness;

on the contrary,

he is patient with you;

for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed,

but that everyone should turn from his sins.

Love forgives . . . and God is love.

What would happen if God forgave like we do . . . or do NOT do for that matter?

Would we have any hope of redemption?

Any hope of salvation?

Sobering, huh?

Maybe that is why when Yeshua taught his talmidim (disciples) to pray, he included the following line:

Matthew 6:12 (CJB)
12  Forgive us what we have done wrong,

as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.

This is what love is – this is what love does.

After all, he forgave US and I am quite sure NONE OF US deserve that forgiveness. He forgave us because He is love!

In fact, if we don’t follow His lead and forgive each other, if we don’t love our neighbor – our enemies . . . then salvation is NOT in our future!

Matthew 6:14-15 (CJB)
14  For if you forgive others their offenses,

your heavenly Father will also forgive you;

15  but if you do not forgive others their offenses,

your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.

An important parable is taught concerning this part of love when Kefa (Peter) asked Yeshua (Jesus):

“Rabbi, how often can my brother sin against me and I have to forgive him?

As many as seven times?”

Yeshua answers Kefa with the following:

“No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!

Yeshua explains to Kefa why in the following teaching:

The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared with

a king who decided to settle accounts with his deputies.

Right away they brought forward a man who owed him many millions;
and since he couldn’t pay,

his master ordered that he, his wife, his children

and all his possessions be sold to pay the debt.

But the servant fell down before him.

Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’

So out of pity for him, the master let him go and forgave the debt.

“But as that servant was leaving,

he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him some tiny sum.

He grabbed him and began to choke him, crying,

Pay back what you owe me!’

His fellow servant fell before him and begged,

Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

But he refused;

instead, he had him thrown in jail until he should repay the debt.

When the other servants saw what had happened,

they were extremely distressed;

and they went and told their master everything that had taken place.

Then the master summoned his servant and said,

You wicked servant!

I forgave you all that debt just because you begged me to do it.
Shouldn’t you have had pity on your fellow servant,

just as I had pity on you?’

And in anger

his master turned him over to the jailers for punishment

until he paid back everything he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat you,

unless

you each forgive your brother from your hearts.”

~ Matthew 18:23-35 (CJB)

Did you notice the wicked part? It is the Greek work πονηρός ponēros. Notice how it is used in the following verse:

Matthew 13:19 (CJB)
19  Whoever hears the message about the Kingdom,

but doesn’t understand it, is like the seed sown along the path

-the Evil One comes and seizes what was sown in his heart.

Yes, as in the devil – the opposite of what God is . . . the opposite of Love.

This is significant to understanding what loving our neighbor is. Herod’s wife had a grudge against Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist).

Mark 6:22-24 (CJB)
22  The daughter of Herodias came in and danced,

and she pleased Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl,

Ask me for whatever you want; I will give it to you”;

23  and he made a vow to her,

Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

24  So she went out and said to her mother,

What should I ask for?”

She said,

The head of Yochanan the Immerser.”

We learn earlier in the text, why Herodias had a grudge . . .

Mark 6:17-20 (CJB)
17  For Herod had sent and had Yochanan

arrested and chained in prison because of Herodias,

the wife of his brother Philip.

Herod had married her,
18  but Yochanan had told him,

“It violates the Torah for you to marry your brother’s wife.”

19  So Herodias had a grudge against him

and wanted him put to death.

But this she could not accomplish, 20  because Herod stood in awe of Yochanan and protected him, for he knew that he was a tzaddik, a holy man.

Whenever he heard him, he became deeply disturbed; yet he liked to listen to him.

The word for grudge is ἐνέχω enechō. In the classical Greek enechō… had the connotation of holding fast to an emotion, a state, and so on.. In Exodus 14:4,7 Pharaoh’s hardening his heart may be viewed as holding to his emotion. Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon.

You see, without love our hearts can and will become hard just like Pharaoh’s heart did. We are warned numerous times about not hardening our heart – towards the poor – towards our enemies – towards our brothers.

A heart without love – a hard heart . . . will express itself in hate, revenge, grudges, and many other words the text uses and warns about because they all lead to a different father . . . the evil one – the murderer – the destroyer of souls . . . darkness . . . without love.

I don’t know if you caught the following above, but I want you to think about who God is and what love is:

For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike,

and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

He doesn’t withhold sunshine or rain from the bad or unrighteous . . . because He is love!

To love our neighbor as ourselves, is to put our self in our neighbors or enemies shoes and treat them how we would want to be treated if our roles were reversed . . .

But more than that, it is to love them the way that God loves them . . . mercifully, patiently . . . after all, we are told:

1 John 4:7-11 (CJB)
7  Beloved friends,

let us love one another; because love is from God;

and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God.

8  Those who do not love, do not know God;

because God is love.

9  Here is how God showed his love among us:

God sent his only Son into the world,

so that through him we might have life.

10  Here is what love is:

not that we have loved God,

but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the kapparah for our sins.

11  Beloved friends, if this is how God loved us,

we likewise ought to love one another.

Love your neighbor as yourself . . .

The 2nd most important command and precursor to the 1st . . .

Leviticus 19:18 (CJB)
18  Don’t take vengeance

on or bear a grudge against any of your people;

rather,

love your neighbor as yourself;

I am Adonai.

Advertisements

About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
This entry was posted in Living life Even if . . .. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s