Let’s look at what Luke 10:25-37 says about how we are to love and who we are to love…
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the #19robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Isn’t that just like us to have our own agendas? We are on a mission. We’ve got our blinders on. We hope we don’t run into anyone we know on the way who may hold us up. We rush from task to task, and the people around us are simply background; faceless, nameless people crossing our paths daily, and we seldom even notice. We are our priority. We don’t have time for distractions. And I think that’s what the injured man represents. He was a distraction.
When Jesus spoke about loving our neighbor in the story of the Good Samaritan he was referring to a person outside our faith, ethnicity and possibly our moral code. A stranger, and enemy even but definitely someone outside your circle and your comfort zone.
Loving this kind of neighbor could be dangerous, or at the very least could raise some eyebrows. But again the love that Jesus speaks of requires a choice and an action. That’s it. No speculation of what response you’ll receive, no promise of a warm fuzzy thank you, no guarantee of a happy ending. But we are commanded to make that move. To love others is not always easy, but it is always worth it.
Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
These verses speak volumes as to how we are to demonstrate love to those in need. There are opportunities daily to help others, whether it is in the mission field abroad or the mission field in your own neighborhood. We are expected to reach out, get uncomfortable and lend a hand.
So, what stops us from reaching out and loving others? What are we afraid of? Is it return on investment, fear of rejection or simply fear of getting off track from our own agendas? What if I step out in faith and offer love, yet am turned away, or it costs me something, or I don’t get my stuff done?
Let’s look at Matthew 14:22-33
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[a] from the land,[b] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[c]he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
You may wonder what the story of Peter walking on the water has to do with loving others. I think it has everything to do with it. To love is to step out in faith. To love others is to take focus from yourself and place it on another. When we step out in love, it’s like Peter stepping out of the boat and onto the water.
While His focus was on Jesus, he moved forward without fear. As soon as he took his focus from Jesus and onto himself, he began to fear and sink. But who was there to hold him up? Who never faltered? Jesus. And so when we love deeply we may be setting ourselves up to be hurt even deeper, but who will be there extending His almighty hand to lift us up and carry us through.
The love of Jesus never fails us.
The reverend Dr.Charles Stanley is famous for his quote “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. “This statement truly changed my life. No matter what the outcome, when you obey God’s commands, you reflect his love for you and are a living testimony of that love. That kind of 0bedience has eternal reward.
So how does Jesus change our hearts? How is it possible for us to receive the ability and even the desire to love others?
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are born again. We obtain the indwelling of His Holy Spirit which enables us to do things we never dreamed possible. Like loving those we may have previously deemed unlovable, forgiving things we thought unforgiveable, and living a life once thought impossible.
As we take in and believe these commands, we need to be using them to regularly check ourselves.
- Do we have compassionate hearts for those who are hurting? Are we extending kindness?
- What about humility?
- Do we feel superior in our “religion” or do we reach out in humility as broken and forgiven; One believer to another.
- And there is that forgiveness business again! “Forgiving each other as the lord has forgiven you so you must also forgive.” MUST. This is not a suggestion, but a command…from Jesus!
- Are we putting on love?
- What does that look like?
So are you getting the picture?
As Christians, we walk as though we are on a runway. All eyes are on us. What does our walk look like?
We are to be cloaked in love, draped with compassion, accessorized with humility and emitting kindness to all we meet.
This is the picture of our walk. This will show the world we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is how we walk in love.