Summary: Part 1 of two-parter regarding loving others as we should.
Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself (Part 1)
February 7, 2010
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY'S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
We’ve been talking since the beginning of January about the two greatest commandments, and specifically about what Jesus says is the most important commandment of all – to love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.
And as we continue to journey into what we’re calling “The Year of the Family,” I wanted to bring home to you the truth that I’ve hammered on since we began, and that is that we love others best when we love God the most.
But the question that comes up from that point is just how we do that? How do we love others and more specifically, how do we love our neighbor as ourselves, like Jesus says to do and which He says is the second greatest commandment?
I think all of us struggle from time to time with putting ourselves ahead of others, even spouses and children.
Right? Please tell me I’m not the only one!
But Jesus says that we need to be intentional about putting ourselves aside for the sake of others, especially our families and those who belong to the family of God.
It’s hard to do because one of the things the world has drilled into us is to look out for number one.
So how can we go about that?
God: Jesus has some things to share with us about that.
In our passage today He talks a bit of the underlying attitude that we have to have in order to love others as we should.
Next week we’re going to look at another passage that kind of lends itself to the “how to” idea of loving others.
But today we’re looking at the heart issue.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Did you notice who does the asking here and who does the answering here? In this passage, Jesus isn’t the one quoting the greatest commandment, the lawyer is.
This is an indication that this is actually a separate conversation than the one we’ve been quoting from these last few weeks.
Let’s go on.
28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Isn’t this typical? We all try to do that from time to time, and I think that that’s one of the reasons this is here – to show us that once again, Scripture addresses the stuff that you and I go through, and the stuff that you and I try to pull when it comes to trying to get out of obeying God.
30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
The religious leaders pass by. The ones who should be modeling compassion and mercy deliberately ignored the man.
Confession time. I was one of these guys. I’m ashamed of it, and if I had the opportunity again, I’d jump on it.
I won’t get into details, but there was an occasion when I passed by when I should have stopped because I was afraid it was a trick. Not proud of, but there it is.
Then Jesus continues, but all of a sudden it’s not just a story anymore, because He introduces a character that no one listening in the crowd would have guessed at:
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
Stop here for a minute. Most of you are probably aware of this, but for those like me who didn’t grow up with a Bible background, let me explain something.