Monday, October 24, 2011

Loving deeper and wider.

We are to not only love God with all of our heart, soul and strength but we are to also love our neighbor as yourself...

LUKE 10:27 He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

This is not a new concept to me. I have read this scripture many times. I have even written on this subject before. So what was different about God's Word this time?

I would say what was different was defining whom my neighbor actually is. When I have read "love my neighbor as myself," I often have thought about the little retired couple who lives next door or the young couple who lives across the street. Yes these are my neighbors (literally) but our neighborhood extends so much further than just our street. In fact, Jesus defined "neighbor" as anyone who we live with or come in contact with.

When you allow that to penetrate your mind and your heart, you just may want to repent as I wanted to. Sometimes our "neighbors" or those we live with or come in contact with seem unlovable. They may even do some unloving things or say unloving things to us. But according to Jesus, we are to still love them. Love them to a degree that matches how much we love ourselves.

When I think about my life I see how careful I am in taking measures to make sure I am healthy, happy and secure. Each day I get plenty to eat. Each night I get adequate sleep. If I am sick, I go to the doctor to get medicine. If I am sad, I do something fun and happy to bring joy back to my life. I work hard so that my future can be secure, not just financially but physically and spiritually. I do all that I can do to take care of the needs in my life.

It is so easy to take care of ME! But what about those people that I come in contact with (my neighbors), how easily is it for me to take care of them?

How many times do I see someone sick, but yet I do not pray for them. How many times do I see someone in my family in need, but I do not sacrifice to help them out. How many times do I see someone struggling or even depressed, but yet I do not stop my busy life and offer them hope or just a shoulder to cry on. How many times do I see someone going hungry, both physically and spiritually, but yet I do not offer them food for strength.

I feel my hunger pains, but not theirs. I feel my pain, but not theirs. I see my distress, but not theirs. Many times it is difficult to love others because we simply do not love ourselves. We love ourselves enough to take care of the basic needs that we have. But we simply do not love ourselves like God loves us.

If we are to really comprehend this passage about loving others like we love ourselves than we must understand what legitimate self-love is. Nobody is to be excluded from our love, not even ourselves. If we value God's creation and His gifts, we must value ourselves as one of His gifts. If God, by grace, finds us worthy to love, then we should also love ourselves.

With the same measure, if God loves us so much to save us, forgives us and bless us, we not only need to accept His love and forgiveness but we must extend it to ALL those we come into contact with.Our neighbors. If God sees value in us, we must acknowledge the value in others. Who they are, what they have done, what they have said holds no condition to whether or not we should love them.

"We love because He first loved us." -1 John 4:19

I need to love deeper. and wider. and I need to love ALL of those whom I live with or come in contact with. My neighbors, may I have a heart like His heart for all of them.

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