Christmas - Love - Day 27
Lord, help me love people the same way you love me. Break down any reluctance on my part to be as gracious to those I meet as you are to me. Amen.
READ: Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The Pharisees heard the news. Jesus bested the Sadducees – their political and religious rivals. Wanting to demonstrate their superiority, they sent one of their top scholars to test Jesus. Having full knowledge of the Law and the hundreds of interpretations developed to assure no part of the Jewish law was ignored, their emissary stepped forward and posed a question. He asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied that loving God with all our heart, soul and mind was the greatest commandment. But he added, “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This Pharisee would have been well aware of what it means to love your neighbor. Leviticus 19 describes it in detail. It says – provide food for those who have none; don’t steal, lie, deceive or defraud others; don’t take advantage of those who work for you or those who are physically handicapped; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the rich; don’t slander or gossip about those around you; don’t endanger the lives of others; don’t hate each other or hold grudges against one another.
Every one of us wants to be treated this way, but we struggle to do the same for those who hurt us or are different from us. John 3:16 tells us what God did for us. Romans 5:8 (“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”) reminds us why we should be motivated to obey God. Remembering that God loves us unconditionally helps us love others unconditionally.
Lord, whenever I start to make excuses for why someone doesn’t deserve to be loved, help me remember my sorry state before Jesus loved me unconditionally and died on the cross. Help me die to self and love like Jesus loves. Amen.