Don’t you hate it when inconsistencies surface? You can live more consistently! However, that won’t happen with the usual responses of denying or hiding. Correctly identifying the opposites in an inconsistency helps us be more consistent. Obedience to the Second Commandment requires just such an identification. Jesus’ commandment challenged the thinking of His hearers and it will challenge ours.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day taught this: Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you. Sounds good, right? It even sounds vaguely familiar! Critical thought shows this advice to be negative and passive. The negative aspect is don’t do (fill in the blank). It’s passive because no action is required. It’s possible to be totally indifferent to everyone and still be obedient to that teaching. Caring, compassion, and extending one’s self are all unnecessary. What did Jesus teach? The exact opposite! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do unto others what you would have others do to you.” We know this as the Golden Rule. It’s not the Second Commandment, but it illustrates how to live a life consistent with the Second Commandment. So, what ‘opposite’ of loving our neighbor should we avoid?
What’s apathy? Who cares! Indifference is the opposite of love. God was not indifferent to us. He loved us. He made a way for us to know Him because we couldn’t come to Him on our own. Jesus tells us the most important thing is to love God above all else. To shorten the things we have to remember, He said the Second Commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. To love our neighbor, we must be positive and active and do for him/her what we would have them do for us. How many of us treat our neighbors that way? Remember, Jesus gave the example of the Good Samaritan to tell us who our neighbors are. Like the Good Samaritan, our love must cross social, racial, and economic barriers.
In a sense, the Second Commandment is a litmus test. Jesus said if we love Him we will keep His commandments. If love for God resides in us then it will express itself by loving those around us. As a matter of fact, the Apostle John wrote if we say we love God whom haven’t seen but not the brother/neighbor we have seen, the truth is not in us. Love for God may be difficult to describe or put our arms around, but it’s easy to see love for others. It’s really not more complicated than loving who God loves. And we know God loved the world so much He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Godly love is a giving, demonstrating love. Loving the way we should is much easier to say than to do, but it certainly brings the Christian life into focus!
Soli Deo Gloria!
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