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
To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.
Do you have a difficult time planning whom to invite to a party? As you flip through the pages of your address book do you see friends with whom you are quite comfortable in one setting and other friends with whom you are comfortable in an entirely different setting? Yet it would be quite another thing to mix these two sorts of friends together? Do you behave a certain way with one group and another way with the other?
The Bible has a name for people who behave differently depending on the company they keep; it’s a nasty word: hypocrites.
Paul latched on to this right away when he saw it had cropped up its ugly head in Peter… then spread to other Jews… and then even wormed its insidious way into Barnabas. Barnabas! The one believer who really knew better. It was Barnabas who first reached out to Paul… who brought him to the other believers, vouched for him because he knew the grace of God could transform even a legalistic Pharisee and Christian killer like Paul.
Something had to be done!
Peter had come to Antioch and had been enjoying wonderful fellowship with the Gentile (non-jewish) believers there. But when his old Jewish buddies from Jerusalem showed up the situation got awkward! What would they think of his camaraderie with non-jews — uncircumcised people outside of the line of Abraham? Yes, God had extended grace to the Gentiles. Peter had had that vision, had seen the Spirit fall upon the household of Cornelius, but Jews and Gentiles together? What would James and those with him think? He began to pull back.
Hear Paul tell it…
“When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?’” (Gal. 2:11-14).
The ‘In’ Crowd. It can sneak up on even a mature believer… a mentor… a leader in the Church. Don’t let it sneak up on you. Live to please not the crowd, not the fads of passing fashion, not the opinions of the majority, but live to please the Lord… the Maker of us all.
To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.