A bellyfull of one another?
An expert in the law, once tested Jesus by asking Him: “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus made no hesitation but citing from the Pentateuch answered, “’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. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:34-40, NIV)
Paul, in writing the Romans, restates this,
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom. 13:8-10)
John, the disciple whom the Lord most loved, extends this plea:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)
We do well to remember that to love one another is not merely a suggestion, it is not dependent upon emotion, and it is not at all an option. To love one another, despite our differences, is a command of our God. In fact, as the above scriptures emphasize, it is the CHIEF command.
In Galatians Paul warns,
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Gal. 5:13-15)
“The fruit of the Spirit is love…” writes Paul (5:24). But if we instead “bite and devour each other,” if we are with a bellyfull of one another, we find ourselves too full for the Spirit, for Living Water and Bread of Life.
Love one another, and