Love and Be Loved

Love and Be Loved
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“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)

Here Jesus gives us implicit instructions. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In fact, He says that loving our neighbor is just as important as loving Him. But who is our neighbor? In Luke 10:29, a religious man asks Jesus this very question. And, in true Jesus fashion, He responds with a parable - the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). The story is this: A Jewish man was traveling to Jericho. On his way, he was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side on the road. Several people passed the wounded man lying on the road; one was a priest; the other, a Levite. Both of these “religious” men purposely ignored the hurting Jew. Then, a Samaritan man- one who was despised by Jews and considered to be sub-human, came along. Unlike the other two, this Samaritan stopped and took action. No doubt- this was not part of the Samaritan’s plan. It was by no means convenient for him. It wasn’t even customary; nonetheless, the Samaritan exhibited God-like compassion toward this stranger. He began to help the robbed, beaten and left for dead Jewish man - and paid a great deal of time, money, and energy to do so.

If you’ve been in the church for any amount of time, you have been taught that Christians are to love our neighbor as ourselves. You also must know that our neighbor is not just the person next door but everyone around us! Our neighbor is the cashier at the grocery store, the person working out next to us at the gym, and the co-worker with whom we have nothing in common. We are called to love all these people, not just our friends. We are to have compassion on the people around us- those who are broken, hurting, and in need, and not solely when it’s convenient.

 
Compassion in action means loving others the way Jesus does. It means looking past our own agenda, our schedules, and our differences! It means we STOP and care for those in need!
 

But what happens when we are the ones in need? We’ve all learned that the goal of the story is to teach us to be like the Good Samaritan; and that is most definitely our aim. As Christians we need to identify with the Samarian- the helper, the one who stopped and gave of himself. However, I wonder. Have you ever found yourself in the Jewish man’s shoes? Feeling as though you have been robbed, beaten and left for dead? Have you ever been broken, in pain, and desperately in need of help? If so, I want you to know… There is no shame in being in a difficult season. We all have times that are hard. It’s natural to have feelings of disappointment and discouragement when life doesn’t turn out the way we hope. We shouldn’t “fake” feeling fine. We need to be real with others. Not so that we can remain a victim, broken on the side of the road. But so that we can receive healing - the same way we want for our neighbor.

The Lord is faithful. He will always use us. But the results are far more beneficial when we give from a place of fullness, rather than from a depleted state. The Samaritan man gave from his fullness. Dare I say- there was no doubt in his mind that he could stop and be helpful- because he knew how to love. He knew he had the resources and the ability. Even against the cultural segregation, the Samaritan knew that far reaching effects of love.

Go the Extra Mile:

As the Body of Christ we need to not only to give to and serve others, but we also need to know how to identify when we are in need! My challenge to you is to learn to recognize both sets of needs. Allow the Lord to breathe on the dry and painful areas of your heart. From that place of wholeness with Jesus, you can fully help those around you! It will give you compassion for someone else in need because you now know what it feels like to be on both sides!

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