Matthew 22:36-40 (AMP) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall 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. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
This struck me deep reading “the whole law depends on these commandments.” Now I know we are not under the law as born again believers. Jesus came to fulfill the law, but He did not do away with it. What do you see when you read these scriptures? Do you see a need to grow deeper in your relationship with Christ? What does it make you think about your neighbor? You may say, I do not hate, “I just love everybody.” Being nice to be people, to their face, is not really loving our neighbor.
I had an ‘AHA’ moment yesterday while reading this. We can be so concerned with serving that we forget the reason we serve (serving is loving your neighbor). Jesus illustrates this point with his encounter with Martha: Luke 10:38-42 (TPT) As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. But Martha became exasperated with finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”
Martha was busy serving (which she did not get scolded for nor told to stop doing), she was told to change her perspective. Martha was distracted by all the things that needed to be done and not focused on the who it was all for. I could tell that Martha’s love language is acts of service and Mary’s is quality time. If you do not know what love languages are check out Gary Chapman’s books God Speaks Your Love Language and The Five Love Languages. Briefly there are five love languages: quality time, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation and acts of service. The way I show love is acts of service and gifts, however, the way I receive love is words of affirmation and acts of service. My husband shows love by physical touch and gifts, but he receives love by quality time and physical touch. What does this have to do with the main scripture?
To really do this love thing right I need to do both. There is one more important than the other, that means I can get out of balance, but that does not mean I need to ignore the other all together. How do we ignore loving our neighbor? My husband said it best in one sermon, “A non-serving Christian is a contradiction.” As stated above, not all serving has to be “acts of service.” Learning people’s love languages means we start relationships. It is the outflow of our love for Christ that we desire to love our neighbor, and the amplified says unselfishly seeking the best for others.
It is not a bad thing to serve and love to serve, but do not let that distract you from loving God. How can we know when we are distracted? When we start comparing. When we start feeling jealousy or envy. When we start feeling rejection and bitterness. These are all distractions. Did you know you can be distracted like this and not serve? Our minds will get in the way with loving God completely and loving our neighbor. I have to put my focus back on Jesus when these feelings come up. I am not going to act like I do not get distracted, because I do.
Paul said it best, Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Spend time with the Father today. Not just to energize you for the day as we sometimes do. Spend time with Him because you love Him. Ask Him ways to show love to your neighbor today? Get to know their love language. God speaks yours, we speak ours back to Him…what if we used that in how we love our neighbor. It is not enough to just be “nice” to people. Remember, Jesus said our neighbor was anyone we came in direct contact with. That means the people in line at the grocery store, the gas station attendant, and for me the couple that does not like to cut their grass next door (I have to do better too).
Love God, Love People!