Mark 12:31-33 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; 33AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Yesterday we attempted to unpack both Jesus and Moses' teaching on what it means to love the Lord your God. Today we want to unpack the second great commandment mentioned by Jesus: namely loving your neighbor as yourself.
Who is your neighbor?
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament is a standard reference work in unpacking meanings of Old Testament words from the original language. In its treatment of the term translated "neighbor", we discover that a neighbor can include:
1. A fellow slave, or in our day and age a co-worker. (Exodus 21:14)
2. A fellow soldier (Judges 7:13)
3. Aquaintences, friends or people we see every week or are close friends. (Genesis 38:12)
Thus the word "neighbor" could be translated "another person", ranging from friends to acquaintences to co-workers to fellow Christians. I would even venture to say that one's neighbor could include your enemies, for Jesus tells us as Christians to love our enemies in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27-35. The word translated "neighbor" in the New Testament has a similar wide range of meaning. Thus in our brief survey of scripture, here is what we can conclude about this wide ranging word translated neighbor:
Who is my neighbor?
The challenge to love people with the love of God
Only when we love the Lord our God with all our heart as commanded in the Old Testament, taught by Jesus and restated in the remainder of the New Testament can we love the people in our lives. Loving God will open me up to His love flowing through me. Loving others can be a fearful thing, however lets not forget 1 John 4:8 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves
punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." Loving others as God loves will entail discernment and resolve to not give up nor give in. It may entail tough love at times and tender love at other times. Even with our enemies, we can hate what they do while still loving them enough to pray for them and stand aside in a redemptive posture. As with all the commands of scripture, every command has at least one provision of grace to fulfill that command.
How to love our neighbor as we should - looking back at Deuteronomy 5 and 6
As Jesus states in Mark 12:31 to love our neighbor, He quotes from Leviticus 19:18. However we can look back at Deuteronomy 5 and 6, since in Moses' restatement of the ten commandments, the remaining six commandments in Deuteronomy 5:16-21 can be treated similarly like we did yesterday, taking the negatively stated commandments and recasting them positively to see what they look like when carried out by the power of grace.
1. Love your Neighbor Emphatically
Commandment #5 Deut 5:16 ‘Honor your father and your mother.."
Thus I am to love my parents with God's love
Commandment #6 Deut 5:17 "you shall not murder" can be stated positively "you shall preserve human life". In considering Jesus comments on this command in His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:21-26, we could say that in loving our neighbor with this command, I should pray for and watch what I think or say about my brother.
Commandment #7 Deut 5:18 ‘You shall not commit adultery' stated positively could read "you shall be faithful to your spouse". Loving your spouse is a profound picture of God's love for Israel and Christ's love for the church. Again you cannot love any of the people in your life without the love of God.
Commandment #8 Deut 5:19 ‘You shall not steal." stated positively could be "You shall contribute toward the needs of your neighbor". Loving the various people in your life is not about getting all you can and canning all you get", rather it about putting their needs ahead of your own.
Commandment #9 Deut 5:20 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.' Stated positively could be "tell your neighbor the truth or tell the truth about your neighbor".
Commandment #10 Deut 5:21 ‘You shall not covet...." To covet means to desire after people or things that you have no right to own or have relationship. Stated positively we could say "You shall desire the best for your neighbor".
2. Love your Neighbor Extensively Deuteronomy 6
As you love the Lord your God with all your being (Deuteronomy 6:1-6), the best way to love your neighbor is to communicate to your children, families and people around you the love of God in both word and deed. Deuteronomy 6:7, 17 and 21 details time and time again of sharing God's words and commands with your children.
Conclusion: Loving your Neighbor requires the love of God
Thus as we close out today's blog, we go back to Jesus' words in Mark 12:31, reminded of loving our neighbor emphatically and extensively, realizing that without the love of God, we cannot love the people in our lives in the way the Lord would have us. Jesus states in Mark 12:31-34 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS
YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You
have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE
ELSE BESIDES HIM;
33AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH
ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt
offerings and sacrifices.” 34When Jesus
saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from
the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
What it means to love your neighbor
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