Thou shalt love

Readings for October 25, 2020

Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Matthew 22:34-40

When I was young, my parents attempted to keep me away from bad behavior. They did this by instructing me in what not to do. “Don’t do that” or “stop that” or “stay away from that” were meant to be instructional in the simplest, least questionable way.  Unfortunately for my parents, that still doesn’t mean that I listened. I found myself “doing” and “going towards” many of these bad behaviors. Eventually though, I did start to learn for myself that what my parents’ deemed “bad” was, in fact, pretty bad. Once they could see that I had learned this, my parents’ instructions began to change. Instead of being told what not to do, the focus turned to what I should be doing. Fortunately, thanks to an increased maturity, I seemed to respond much better to the instructions on what I should be doing.

God seems to follow a pattern similar to my parents. In Exodus, He instructs the Hebrews on what not to do. Do not treat the aliens badly, do not forget the poor, etc. In fact, even the entirety of the Ten Commandments are patterned after this same type of instruction. Thou Shalt Not seems to ring true to a parent’s attempt to keep children from bad behavior.

But then came Jesus to turn things around with phase two of God’s plan. No, Jesus doesn’t change the rules, but he starts to expand on them and to tell us what to do, pointing us to the source and summit of the Law. Love–love God, and love others as we love ourselves. The Law, and everything we’ve been told by the prophets, proclaim these two “greatest” commandments. More than mere Cliff’s Notes, the command to love is an all inclusive, perfectly stated summation of all that God has been trying to teach us since the day He formed Adam from a puddle of mud.

Simply, everything we do should reflect a love for God, our omniscient and ever merciful Creator. And, all that we do to others, those He created in the same love as He created us, must dignify that love. The two are inextricably linked. If we love God, then how we treat ourselves and how we treat others needs to mirror the love God has for us.

Certainly, love isn’t always easy. But it is always sanctifying. Because by doing so, what has been undeservedly gifted to us is deservedly returned to Him.

Lord Jesus, your love is my strength. Help me live out that love with those whom I encounter, whether alien or family, poor or influential. May I make a return to the Father with the love I share with others. Amen

4 thoughts on “Thou shalt love

  1. When I was an undergrad, my favorite Bible instructor was an old guy full of little stories… like parables of Jesus or proverbs of wisdom. One of his go to stories went like this:

    Every year, we get kids from all over the nation leave home for the first time and come to this Christian college to start their adult lives. They come from good Christian homes, mostly, but they come ready to find answers for themselves and not just simply live according to their parents rules. This is natural of course.

    Every year one or two of these kids wind up in my office seeking my rather objective opinion on matters their parents had seemed so rigid or biased about. A young man will ask me, his professor, “Just how far can I really go with a girl on a date before it’s a sin?” He wants to know where the line is between living right and indulging in sin.

    When I am asked this, which I am every year, I always respond the same. I say to the young person, “You are thinking about it all wrong. It’s not nearly so much a matter of ‘how far’ as it is ‘what direction’? If a young lady accepts your invitation to go out on a date, how about you start with the idea ‘How can I protect her virtue and live holy?’ If you start in that direction, then you are doing well, but if you start the other direction, you are in trouble with the first step.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always reminded when I don’t love my neighbor, then I am not able to say that I love God with a clean conscious! And if I attempt to justify any I’ll feelings… Then I am definitely lying to myself, yet mostly to God, my friend!

    If that makes sense? lol.

    Thank you Tim for the wonderful reminder ❤️

    God bless you and your family! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

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