“Jesus expects you to be just as concerned with your neighbor’s well-being as your own.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 6, 2021
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (ESV)
Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. With these two commands, Jesus Christ offers a complete vision for the Christian life. The whole of life oriented towards God in worship and praise, and sleeves that are daily rolled up and ready to serve a world in need. Breathe in the life of God, breathe out his love towards others.
You’ve likely heard these words many times over the years, yet as I reflect upon them today, I’m struck by the small but significant qualifier Jesus gives when telling us to love our neighbor. How are we meant to love them? As we love ourselves.
What does it mean to love yourself? Increasingly, we live in a society that is drunk on self-love. Virtually every decision we make, or are encouraged to make, is in some way directed towards the betterment of our own lives, whether that is our personal health, social standing, or financial position. You don’t have to be convinced of the merit of this way of life. No one has to sit you down and tell you self-love and self-preservation is worthy of your time or passion. No, it’s hardwired into your DNA! Yet what if you took every ounce of that desire for affluence, adoration, comfort, and pleasure, and turned it outward in love for someone other than yourself? I believe that would be nothing short of an act of God!
Jesus loves to make the impossible possible in your life, and I believe this begins with the ability to truly love your neighbor as yourself. Notice he does not simply say serve your neighbor, or volunteer an hour of your time and then go back to a self-consumed life. No, here’s the real kicker: Jesus expects you to be just as concerned with your neighbor’s well-being as your own. If your life were in disarray and falling apart, you would spend every waking moment trying to steady the ship and secure a future for yourself. Yet how easily we dismiss a neighbor in this situation, offering a passing thought of sympathy while quickly moving on with our own concerns?
To love your neighbor is to be entangled in the messiness of their lives. It will cost you your time, your convenience, your money, and your emotional capacity. It is not easy, but it is essential to your obedience to Christ, and is the only path to freedom and true healing.
Father, give us a genuine love for our neighbor that can only come from the empowering presence of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Who is God asking you to love as you love yourself?
Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; 1 John 4:21
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