Love serves our neighbor, sin uses them

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 7:12

This text contains an imperative regarding how we are to view and treat all other people. It is a command not limited to our family members or to our immediate neighbors or to our coworkers, but to all people. It is a command so important that the entirety of the law and prophets are summed up in this one imperative.

It is an imperative that demands the hard work of placing ourselves in the shoes of others and acting for their good.  It requires us to imagine ourselves in other peoples situations and from that position to think through how we would desire people to be toward us and what we would desire people to do on our behalf. Once this has been done we are to do the very thing we believe we would desire be done to us.

This is a command and expectation of the believer that requires energy and intentionality. It is a call to kill the apathy that so often characterizes our interaction with our fellow man. It is a call to live outside of ourselves for the sake of our neighbor. It is a command to other-centeredness.

The fact that in this command is the law and the prophets helps us understand that sin does the very opposite. Sin manifests itself on a horizontal level in the singular devotion to the self and the utter lack of concern for others. Often an apparent concern for another is in actuality the pursuit of benefit received by another for the self. Sin does not serve other people it uses them as a means to another end. All sin of a horizontal nature can be understood within this light.

For example, stealing is taking advantage of another person by taking their goods with no concern for the owner. Adultery is of a similar nature. Stealing a person and enslaving them, hurting a person or murdering them; these are direct assaults on another person. This is a direct disregard for the person. This type of offense manifests a gross elevation of the self over the very life of another human being.

Jesus was the revelation of God as He is and the revelation of man as he was intended to be. In the person of Jesus we thus see a God who empties himself for the sake of serving his neighbor and a man who perfectly obeys the golden rule. The cross is the greatest manifestation of self-abasing service for the good of one’s neighbor. God does not command what He himself does not do. By the aid of the Spirit and in obedience to this command we seek to imitate the love of Jesus for all people.

What then will obedience to this imperative look like at different times and in different circumstances with the people in our lives. What will it look like to love…

  • Parents…
  • Spouse…
  • Children…
  • Friends….
  • Co-workers…
  • Church body…
  • Homeless…
  • Slaves…
  • Poor…
  • Prisoners…
  • Widows…
  • Orphans…
  • Elderly…

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