“…the second is this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” v. 31
There is a kind of love that is not love at all. We have been telling ourselves that to love people means to require nothing from them. We want to love our neighbor as Jesus said, but we are forgetting that there is a greater command even than this. And that is why we are so confused about what love is. The greatest commandment of all is to Love God completely. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Jesus teaches us. Then he goes on to say the second greatest commandment; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you had a scale on which to weight them and could put all the commands and doctrines of Christianity on one side, and the two greatest commands on the other side, the latter would outweigh the former. The command to love trumps every other command or doctrine. I don’t think anyone, who has even a remote understanding of the faith would argue with that. God’s command of love is the foundation for every other command. Even those who are not Christians understand that our faith has a great deal to do with love. Today a great deal is being said about love being the greatest command. Sadly, a great deal of evil has been endorsed in our nation in the name of love. If you want to be quickly scolded, with the words, “Love your neighbor!” just try making a stand against immorality or anything God has commanded us not to do, that we want to do and you will be quickly reprimanded; “Stop being a hater! You’re supposed to love! So stop judging me!”
It becomes even more sad when those who promote a feel-good gospel proclaim, “Jesus just wants us to love each other. Keep it all positive, Don’t use words like, sin, or repentance. Just say this prayer brother, Jesus loves you anyway.” And we lead them deeper into darkness. I think, in our desire to be loving and avoid beating people up with the gospel, we’ve lost something important. We’ve forgotten that the command to Love your neighbor is the second, not the first, great command. In fact I would say that, the Bible bears witness to the fact that you cannot truly love your neighbor without first loving God completely. In other words, the best way to love my neighbor as myself is to begin with a whole hearted love for God. This means a love for God that will not allow me to water down his truth to please my neighbor. The best way to love your spouse, child, parent, neighbor, or country is to love God more than you love them. Because if you do you will be the kind of person who leads them to eternal life. Everyone likes false prophets, who come with a feel good message, that is, until judgment comes. When I talk about judgment I’m not just referring to the last day. We have days of judgment that come in this life.
– When the overly permissive parent ends up raising her grandchildren.
-When the guy that didn’t want to be a snitch is standing by his best friends casket after an overdose.
– When the feel good preacher has everyone feeling good, but no one doing good.
These are examples of people who misunderstand the commands of love. Love does not mean that I abandon you to your own designs. If I love God first and you second and myself last then I will always care more about God’s opinion than yours. This will help me be objective enough to lead you to him in every circumstance. Second I will always care more about what happens to you than what happens to me. This gives me the courage to risk your rejection when I have to speak the hard truth in love. Loving God first and you second will make me a better parent, friend, teacher and pastor. A short story to close.
My oldest son, during a week of youth camp, in which he was in charge of a group of young boys, had one camper who needed a great deal of correction during the week. My son sometimes felt bad that he had to continually reprimand the kid. At the end of the week, as the two were talking. The child said to my son, “I love you.” Jack asked ,”But I’ve been fussing at you all week.” The boy replied, “Yeah. I got more attention from you this week than I ever get at home.” My son loved God enough to love that boy enough to lead him in the right way, when it would have been more convenient to just ignore his actions. But Jack understands what love is. It’s not some gooey, careless fake positivism. It’s the same kind of love that hangs on a cross for the sake of righteousness and love. It’s the kind of love that stays faithful to God’s commands even when the crowd wants you to water them down. So let’s love one another, but love God first. Then you’ll truly be lights in a dark world.