I remember a song we used to sing when I was much younger “His banner over me is love”. And that is exactly what we as Christians have to shine out.
Love doesn’t always mean smiling and sweet words it can also been seen in punishment and saying “no” where the other expected to hear “yes”.
The child may not experience it as love when his mother forbids him to play with a knife. It may even cry for not being allowed. Only later, when it is more mature it will understand it indeed was love.
In Luke 10:26-28 we see Jesus talking to a lawyer:
(26) And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (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.”
So it is right to love your neighbor, not only right, also commanded.
But similar to this lawyer many try to justify themselves by saying that they don’t know who their neighbors are. (Luke 10:29 – But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”)
The same happened when women recently in groups said that they did not know what female clothing is. It too was no more than trying to justify themselves for going improperly dressed.
To answer this question Jesus told the parable of “The Good Samaritan”
Than, if we look at the word “love” we see that in English (and in my language too) there is only one word for love.
In the Hebrew and Greek languages however there are more words for it and our word ‘love’ is translated from these different words. And with it, we are losing sometimes some deeper meaning, but our languages simply have no other words for it.
The same we see with the word ‘hate’. Maybe the text in Malachi 1:2-3 can show this.
(2) “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I HAVE LOVED Jacob; (3) but I HAVE HATED Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.”
Does this mean that God really hated Esau in the way we use the word hate? If we really hate someone we may wish him dead. Well clearly this was not the case, otherwise Esau would not have lived one second longer.
Somebody wrote me “I treat every single person that i come into contact with as my neighbour. But im told it doesnt mean love everyone???”
The remark she got, too belongs to the same category of finding excuses. May I point back to the story Jesus told?
Before helping the man, the Samaritan did not ask him if he believed in God, or if there was maybe a reason why God hated him. He just saw a man in need and helped him.
Something similar we see in Matthew 7:12 where just before Jesus spoke of the narrow and wide gates He said: “IN EVERYTHING, therefore, TREAT PEOPLE THE SAME WAY YOU WANT THEM TO TREAT YOU, for this is the Law and the Prophets”.
Then they pointed her to Psalms 139:21-22 where David wrote (21) Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? (22) I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.
Like God hated Esau, here too David did not mean the kind of hatred that he wanted to kill them. If he did, I think he would have taken his army and do so.
I think we need to understand this in the way, that he did not want anything to do with them. They became his enemies as opposite to friends.
Like we too can have to do with people who we help, but don’t want any further contact with, because of how they live or behave. I will help a man who opposes God, but I will not go with him in his sinful ways, and he cannot really become my friend.
Most of the time I am not the one who cuts the contact, for as long as I have contact they will hear the Gospel and experience that I am different from their other friends. Sadly worldly pleasures and entertainment are often pulling to hard on them.
And doing good to (loving) your neighbor has a reward as well, as we read in Matthew 25 verses 34,40.
(34) “Then the King will say to those on His right (I.e. those who belong to Jesus, followed Him, and did what He said), ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (40) Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, YOU DID IT TO ME.’
In the same way ignoring them has consequences. (Matthew 25:45-46)
(45) ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did NOT do it to one of the least of these, you did NOT do it to Me.’ (46) These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
So should we than love our neighbors and do good works to earn our way to heaven?
No, there is no way we could ever earn our way into His Kingdom!
That is a gift of pure grace to them who belong to Him.
We don’t do good works to be saved.
We are saved and because of that we do good works.
May God bless you all who are following Him on the narrow way.