This post continues part 2 of our 3-part series based on Matthew 22:36-40:
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Yes! These kids get it!
Remember what I said about the Greek words used in the original manuscripts that we translate as love today? Well, after Jesus responds to the question of which is the greatest of the commandments, He follows it up with, “The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”
One of the most common questions I get from people who either do not believe in Jesus or do believe but don’t know Him very well goes something like this:
“Do you follow everything Jesus says? Do you love everyone? What about ____________?”
Jesus isn’t telling us to love ____________ (pick the worst of the worst) like you love your mom, best friend, brother, wife, children – you get the picture. Jesus is instructing us to be selfless, to be ready to act on someone else’s behalf, and to sacrifice.
And let’s not forget prayer. Knowing what was going to come of Him, to His apostles and disciples Jesus says, “…pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
So can we pray for others? For those individuals and groups that we could never imagine extending a helpful hand to because of their extreme unbelief or evilness…should we pray for them? Is praying for them “agape” love? Is that what Jesus was talking about?
“…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16
And then of course there’s the tough one: when it’s revealed to us that parts of our life are sins against God, what do we do? Pray? Repent? So then, what should we do for our neighbor who’s in sin? This one is tough, but if we are to do for our neighbor as we would do for ourselves…the answer is clear.
(On a side note, if you have never considered (or studied out) prayer, give this a shot...visit www.knowing-jesus.com and click on the Bible heading, then the Topics subheading, then enter the word “prayer” into the search and spend some quality time there…powerful stuff.)
This post begins part 2 of our 3-part series based on Matthew 22:36-40:
loving God (part 1); loving your neighbor (part 2); and loving yourself (part 3).
One of the most important steps to loving others is to avoid judging them. Unfortunately, most of us struggle with this challenge daily. I know that I do.
For instance, as a high school teacher with seven years of experience, I felt naively confident in my ability to ensure my toddler son’s public behavior. Parents whose children ran wild were a mystery to me. I figured that any parent worth his salt could control a toddler.
Shockingly, I was incorrect. I can’t remember the circumstances in the department store, but my son went under a large clothing “rounder,” sat down, and wailed. It was quite the scene.
At first, I was the nice mother. “Come on out, sweetie.” The squalling continued. Little ladies walked by and gave me dirty looks.
Next, I tried the stern mother approach, “SonFirstName MiddleName LastName, get out right now!” No luck. I could hear the tongues clucking behind me.
Thus, I went for the desperation technique…dragging him out. This meant that I had to climb halfway under the rounder to reach him. He cried louder. I was embarrassed. He didn’t budge. More people stared and whispered as they passed.
Truthfully, I don’t remember the circumstances of his exit, but obviously, I had little to do with it. However, he did come out. I have the grandchild to prove it.
I failed at that maternal endeavor, but I learned an important truth about parents and all people: don’t judge them. Next time, it will be me. I must take care of my life and let them take care of theirs. I must remember that God loves them, and so should I.
As I have matured, this lesson has marched along with me, often tripping me as a reminder not to judge. It seems like that every time I get “all indignant” and start obsessing about any variety of misbehaviors in others, I wind up doing something careless, foolish, or downright dangerous. If instead, I manage my own life’s challenges, I am better off.
This lesson applies to my feelings for family, friends, associates, neighbors, and those delightful children frolicking in the aisle at the grocery. I don’t know their circumstances, and because God loves them and me, I must do my best to show them respect and love. My imperfections are often more heinous than their imperfections.
Nonetheless, truthfully, I struggle with how to “love” murderers, terrorists, abusers of all kinds, and crazy drivers, but maybe I will learn to allow God to lead me to that higher level of understanding.
At this point, all I know is that I must love and trust God, address my own business, and love those who are trying to do the same in the best ways that they know.
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.
Book Of Mark
Favorite Bible Verses
Fruits Of The Spirit
Gratitude & Generosity
Love In Action
Series On Matthew 22:36 40
Walking By Faith