Tucked away in the ancient book of Leviticus is this command: Leviticus 19:18 ‘“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.”
Further on in the same chapter is:Leviticus 19:33-34 ‘“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
In fact the whole chapter is about loving others as you would want to be loved by others if you were in those situations. The whole law itself is about loving God and loving others.
Jesus exemplified this of course.Speaking in Matthew 5:43-45 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Then later on his ministry, Jesus and taught the Jewish teachers of the law about it. We read in Matthew 22:34-40 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘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 neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
As Christians in the 21st century we are commanded to love. To love God and to show we love God by loving all others – yes including those who hate us and those who mock, vilify and persecute us. Yet every day I see examples in the media, including the Christian media, of just the opposite. Christians hating on others, including other Christians. That doesn’t meant we are to condone the sinning of other Christians, but we can help lovingly restore them.
Jesus loved others and yet gently restored and guided people to go sin no more. Such as the woman caught in adultery and bought before Him in John 8.
Is it easy to love our enemies and our persecutors? No. It can be difficult. Difficult if we try to do it in our own strength. But… But if we ask the Holy Spirit who lives within us to help us love all others as we would want to be loved, then it is possible. We ask Him for help and listen to His guidance. We are to either do as He says to do or we are to not do as He says not to do.
As the church, and as individual parts of the church, we are to mirror and reflect the God we proclaim to serve and worship. God is love. God is trinity. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Perfect and matchless love for eternity. God loves humanity, hence the Son entering into the time and space of humanity and loved sacrificially.
Let’s go into this week determined to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in loving all others we meet – in our words, thoughts and actions. If those outside the Kingdom see you loving others, they will see that you love your God! How amazing is that! Ask the Holy Spirit to show you each morning, how you can love others every day. When you feel like you are going seek revenge or bear a grudge, or you are going to ill treat anybody in anyway, ask the Holy Spirit to help you not to do those things and for a way in which you can show love to that person! That’s all for today!
Here is a brief prayer to help us to start using our words and thoughts wisely starting today.
Father, help us this week to love others as we would like to be loved. May we as your church reflect you and show our of you by loving all others... Help me Holy Spirit to show love to all others, including those who mock and scorn me. We ask this, through the mighty name of your Son, Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.