December 3, 2021

What's Love Got To Do With It?

 We all know the bible verses found in Matthew and in Mark where Jesus is asked, "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replies, "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." This is the response you would expect from Jesus. It is the response his listeners would expect, any other answer would have been blasphemous. Jewish leaders who heard this would not have been able to argue with Jesus response. 

But then Jesus went beyond the original question and said something not so obvious to the crowd. He said, "And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." This second commandment was not so obvious to his listeners. And truthfully, it is not so obvious to us today!

We can understand the first commandment; it may be hard to quantify and thus hard to really do. But we, at least, understand the idea and strive to obey it. But the second commandment involves other people and this is not hard to quantify. These other people include our family, our neighbors, those who love us. Sure we can and do love them. Jesus recognized our natural love for those who love us. In fact he states the obvious when he said, "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Yes He know how we are and he wants more from us!

There are a few clues in the Bible to tell us what this love of others really means. The first is in Matthew where he says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." Now that is not easy, in fact, it is hard, almost impossible! But that is what he said. If you want to obey the second commandment, you must love those who don't love you even those who hate you! Don't just love them, pray for them!   

Maybe the next clue to loving your neighbor will be easier. Jesus taught, "Do not judge, or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use; it will be measured to you." Put in another way, You must use the same standard for judging your neighbor as you would want your neighbor to use when judging you! That is harsh. Assume my neighbor stole money from a local charity. If I condemn him without knowing the reasons he stole the money, I am giving him the right to judge me for stealing from the PTA treasury without knowing why I took the money. Love my neighbor as I love myself. Judge my neighbor as I want to be judged. 

The third way to love your neighbor is in the way you treat those who are in need. For this go to First John the third chapter and the seventeenth verse. John the Apostle writes, "If anyone has material possessions and see his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" Notice, John does not set any qualifying conditions on the person in need. He does not mention why the person is in need. He does not say to see if the person is able to work, or is in real need. Jesus also talks about this giving to those in need in Matthew 25:31-46. In this passage ay judgement day, people are separated into sheep and goats. The sheep gave to those in need while the goats did not. In verse 45, Jesus says to the goats, "I tell you truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Read the full passage to see those Jesus sees in need.

Love for those who inhabit this world can be complicated or it can be easy. Love and pray for those who you love as well as those you hate. Be loving in your judgment of others, give them the same benefit of the doubt as you would want for yourself. Be conscience of and eager to help those in need. By helping, you are loving them.

What does love have to do with it? Everything! Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself. 

March 30, 2020

How's your anchor?

The temperature was unseasonably warm. On the open seas, you noticed the weather more than usual. And you did not want to hear "unseasonably warm" in regard to the weather especially in the North Atlantic. Low winds and high humidity and higher than normal water temperature were the ingredients for bad weather, really bad weather!

The first mate remaindered Captain Thomas, "Cap'n, winds calm. We ain't moving. You thinkin what I'm thinkin?"

"Probably", the Captain responded.

"Think, we can run it, sir?"

"Expect not. We're too heavy after loading in Boston. These ships not really built for speed."

"What ya gonna do, Cap'n?" The experienced first mate knew what he would do. "But", he wondered, "does this young inexperienced captain know what to do?" 

Then to the grizzled old sailor's surprise, the young buttoned down Captain turned to him and said, "What do you think we should do, Mate? You've been here before."

"Were it up to me, Sir, I'd steer toward the bay off the starboard. We need to get close enough for the anchor to grab hold, but not too close."

"Don't want to run aground, right?"

"No Sir, Cap'n."

"Well, get the boys going and let's run for cover."

"Yes Sir", the mate replied as he rushed out to bellowed his orders to the crew.

The ship made it to the bay and put down their anchor before the storm hit. The winds tossed  the ship around. Waves washed over the deck sweeping everything not tied down into the angry sea. Black surrounded the tiny ship as brilliant lightning zipped through the darkness. Mother nature seem angry this evening!

But the anchor held through the night!

March 25, 2020

Weeds and Thorns

Are you a gardener? I am not, I will readily admit. One season, in a fit of enthusiasm, I purchased some tomato seeds and planted them in small containers. They were put in sunny spot and watered regularly. I told everyone to be ready for my Big Boy tomatoes. As they grew, I eagerly staked them and watched over them like a mother hen. One day, I checked on my baby tomatoes and discovered some other plants were taking over my tomatoes crop. I spent the rest of the summer until harvest time, on my knees grumbling as I pulling weeds. I would pull a mess of weeds and two days later more showed up. My persistence payed off that fall with some juicy bright red tomatoes. And Yes, I will plant them again. Even with the hard work those tomatoes cost me, they were worth it! Your own tomatoes taste juicier than those grown for the grocery store and they are better for you. Truth be told, it is a lot more fun bragging about your own tomatoes than those bought at Kroger! 

Isn’t that a bit like growing the seeds God plants in our lives? We receive the Word with enthusiasm and eagerly anticipated the harvest. But somewhere along the way, the weeds and thorns begin to grow in our lives and become a threat to the growth of the Word. You just can't stand by and expect your faith to grow. It becomes obvious, looking at your faith is not the same as growing your faith. In fact, if you don't go something there is a real risk your faith may not grow at all!

The weeds of life bring a harsh reality to growing your faith. Those weeds spring up in to the most unexpected places. Your attend a gathering when across the room you spot the one person you dislike the most. The one who hurt you greatly. The one who caused the most pain you have ever experienced. There they are laughing and joking as if they are throwing the hurt right back at you. They are so smug. You feel the pain and hurt as if it happened only yesterday. Your face turns red, your nostrils flare, your fist clinch. Just as you are about to charge forward with every intention of showing them  what you think about them, you are stopped by a still small voice, a quite intruder muttering the words you least want to hear, "Love your neighbor as yourself", "Love your enemies", "Love, love, love persist in your mind".

Feel free to Comment on Posts or Contact Me


Email *

Message *