Vital Work of Love
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus, here, is teaching that loving God and neighbor is of the utmost importance for you as you follow Jesus in your day to day life. How are you to love God? By loving your neighbor. In what way are to love your neighbor? Love them as you love yourself. If you love others as you love yourself, then you are loving God. All the Law and the Prophets are distilled into this single principle. This one precept replaces the amazing detailed patchwork of the Mosaic code and covers infinitely more territory.
“Love your neighbor as yourself”, Jesus said. It is the “as yourself” that is the operative element here. It is the element that you can’t get around. It is the “as yourself” that makes this commandment comprehensive, universally applicable and without loopholes.
What does “as yourself” really mean? In what way do you love yourself that you should extend this love to others? Unless you suffer from severe depression or some other disorder, you love yourself in the sense that, even though you know you are not flawless, you are dear to yourself. You ask God to protect, provide for and preserve you. You are on the lookout for people who will affirm your value as a person. You love yourself in the sense that anything connected with you seems vitally important. You need not have any illusions that you are the perfect person. You need not have any false affection for yourself. But, In spite of your shortcomings, you watch out for yourself. As for your faults, you are always hoping they will be excused by others. You feel that for any trouble you may cause, you are still somehow worthwhile. In spite of everything, you believe that there is a God given good to you that can and should be saved. When you are surrounded by people who are able to see this good and are concentrating on bringing it out, you are a vastly more joyful and better person for it.
Jesus taught that if you turn this kind of attention on others, it is love. You don’t need to try to force yourself to feel false affection toward others. You don’t need to try to make yourself blind to those qualities that are less than ideal about them. And you certainly don’t have to always be giving others just what they want. You are, rather, to love others as you love yourself. That means you are to see their needs as vitally important. You are to see them as sharers in God’s gifts rather than competitors and so share freely with them. You are to pray for the best in them even when knowing the worst.
Now you can get yourself in real trouble if you try to do this on your own power. You can use others simply to make yourself feel better about yourself or to fulfill your own desires. It is important to share this love as you have received it from Jesus—humbly, graciously, seeing yourself simply as a channel of this love. Jesus isn’t asking you to get into the lives of others to direct the traffic or control them or force yourself upon them. God has a special plan and purpose for each of His children. He is rather inviting you to join Him in this vital work of love and to trust that in His power, love really will conquer all.
Spreading, Serving and Sharing with You,