Summary: God’s love within expresses itself in acts of charity towards humankind.
Welcome to the Neighborhood!
Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself
Sermon Objective: God’s love within expresses itself in acts of charity towards humankind.
The Greatest Commandment (12:28-34)
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these."
32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
A lawyer came to Jesus with a question, asking, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Over the course of the past several weeks, we have explored Jesus’ answer to that question, asking ourselves, in the process, whether or not the love we profess to have for God measures up.
We have considered what it means to love God with our emotions … our hearts.
We have discussed what it means to love God with our souls … our psyche and our will.
We talked about how loving God is not long on emotion and absent serious thought, but to a love for God includes the development and deployment of our minds.
Last week we discovered that loving God with our strength includes using our ability and capability – all that our strength potentially includes – is intended to be used as expressions of love for God.
We have also discovered that the command is positive and affirmative. It is designed to help us become like Christ. We are being fashioned into people of love. It is intended to be carried out in a proactive and positive way. As we do this it leaves no place for the loving other things or even a need to say “don’t do ____.” The truth is … I won’t have the desire or the time to love other things if I am loving God and my neighbor as God designs.
We have, for now, finished the first command. But we have only begun. Living that command is an exciting lifetime opportunity. It radically changes our entire outlook on life; our motivations, our behavior, our passions, and our pursuits. It is a wonderful lens through which to view ourselves and our God!
We are not through! There are more exciting discoveries to come. I mean, if you are looking for a Biblical purpose to life look no further than Jesus’ two commands! And speaking of two, let’s look at the second … The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Fred Douglas Shepard was born on September 11, 1855 in Ellenburg, New York in Clinton County. His father died while he was very young and his mother spent most of her adult life as an invalid. It was probably through this that Fred became associated with illness and caring for the sick. Fred lived with family in Madrid. It was there in a revival meeting in a Baptist church that he accepted Christ as Savior and threw himself completely into the Christian life. At the age of 22 he studied medicine and at 27 married a young lady who was also a doctor. They felt a calling and turned their faces towards the east … Eastern Turkey to be exact.
The Shepards spent the remaining days of their lives in Eastern Turkey. He started a school of medicine and 221 men graduated from there to aid in the terrible disease and suffering throughout the country. His records show that by 1914 he had seen 6000 patients in his clinic, called on others in over 2000 homes, and had only 800 paying patients.
Shepard’s service was so significant that he received decorations from the Red Cross and President Taft in 1909 and from the Sultan of Turkey in 1911. The Sultan said, “The decoration bestowed upon you is nothing compared with your most admiring sympathy shown to the suffering humanity.”