Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Love Your Neighbor - Part 2


It's a word we hear often. It gets floated around constantly.

We love food, outfits, family, TV shows, friends, ideas, places.... The list could go on and on. In some languages there are different words to reveal different meanings of love, but in good ole' English, we just have one. Therefore, our love of fictional characters, apple pie, a sports team, our husband, children, and God get the same word. This seems wrong to me. Even though I've used the word love in each of these cases, plus many more. (Maybe we should start using those different words again, or make up our own.)

The word love also gets misused regularly. People use this word to lie and get what they want. To get ahead. To misuse someone. As an excuse to enable someone in sin. Or put blanket approval on things that are abhorant to a holy God.

"God is love and He loves everyone," is a prominent saying. While this is true, God's love is a perfect and holy love that's always for our good, even if that means disciplining us. I think, perhaps, we don't read enough of the Old Testament, of the Prophets, or maybe just not enough of Romans, to understand the full definition of God's love.

God's love is a perfect and holy love that is always for our good, even if that means disciplining us. Click to tweet

Only through continual abiding in God's Word and presence can we understand what He means when He commands us to love.

I feel like I've been going down a rabbit trail before actually getting to today's focus, but before we can talk about how to love our neighbor, it's important to understand who God says is our neighbor and what God means by love.

In the verse where God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves (which is also found in the Old Testament), the word used is "agapao." Agapao is a social or moral love. A love not prompted by gooey feelings or mutual benefit, but a love of another person created in God's image simply because God created that person in His image. Just like He did me. Just like He did you.

God calls us to love others because He loves each one of us the same and we each have the same value to Him. Click to tweet

So how do we love others?

Our spouse...our children...our parents...our siblings...our in-laws...our church family...our geographical neighbors...our friends...strangers...homeless children on the other side of the world...homeless alcoholics in our cities...the difficult co-worker...

How do we love others - no matter whether they're in our lives for 5 minutes or 50 years - no matter whether they're easy to love or difficult?

1 Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter, and I think has more answers on how to love than we realize. Okay, maybe it's just me. Or maybe not. As I look around me, observation tells me many others have just as many problems putting biblical love into action as I do. Thus, this series.

As much as I hoped to get to the first "way" of loving a neighbor today, I think we've covered enough. I pray that you will pray for me and with me, as I will for you, as we dive into God's Word and truly open ourselves to what He has to say about love. And surrendering our flesh and it's desires to put those words into action.

So join me again on Monday, for the next post on the first "way" God calls us to love.

(Hint: "Love is patient...")

How do we love others - no matter whether they're in our lives for 5 minutes or 50 years? Click to tweet

How do we love others - no matter whether they're easy to love or difficult? Click to tweet

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