“Love of neighbor requires death of self.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 7, 2021
We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification…Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Romans 15:1-2, 7, NKJV
Love of neighbor requires death of self. This is the inescapable and foundational reality of true self-giving love. One simply cannot be concerned with their own success, pleasure, and status while at the same time seeking the good of the other.
This reorientation of life is only possible through the “power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) It is not natural to love in this way! It will never be our default position or orientation in life, and so it requires both a disciplined life of intentional sacrifice, and a daily surrender in prayer to the Lord, asking him to do in our lives what only he can do.
In Romans 15, St. Paul invites these early Christians to bear with one another. For most of us, this is synonymous with “putting up with someone,” yet this is not what Paul has in mind! When we tolerate someone, we live in a state of near constant annoyance and disgust with their shortcomings and failures. Perhaps we are so consumed by them that they render it impossible for us to appreciate any of their graces. Additionally, this singular focus leaves us blind to our own sickness and sin (see Matthew 7:3-5).
To love is to be fully aware of the faults and failures of another and continue to celebrate them as a beloved child of God.
How is this possible? According to Paul, the secret is to “receive one another, just as Christ also received us.” (Romans 15:7) This statement then begs the question: how did Christ receive us? Did he receive us as finished products, the best versions of ourselves, free from any sickness or stain? Absolutely not! As Paul reminds us earlier in his letter to the Romans, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added)
Love receives the sinner. Love welcomes chaos and brokenness. To look into the face of the sinner is to remember our own need for healing, redemption, and grace. We bear with others because others are willing to bear with us! And as we do, we learn to live for the glory of God, a God who did not look on us with indifference but bore with us so that we might be healed and made whole.
Father, remind us daily of the countless ways you love us, weak and frail though we may be, and let that love open our hearts and lives to others, receiving them as you have received us. Amen.
How can you welcome others in love and receive them into your life today?
Bethel Music – Goodness of God
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