In ‘What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?’ (available as a free download here). I identified that there were 83 different subjects that Jesus taught on. I listed the top ten headings according to the frequency that Jesus spoke on them. In covering the top ten, I am now looking at the sixth out 83 most common topic that Jesus taught on.
Having covered humility, forgiveness, doing the will of God, being aware of deceivers, living by the Word. Today’s topic is on ‘loving others’. A command we are all too familiar with.
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
When Jesus was asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer was given, ‘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, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ A further question was then asked that we can often ponder in our minds. “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus then goes on to give the story of the good Samaritan. Of a man who was on journey, but who was attacked by robbers and left half dead. A few of the religious-types came along and passed by on the other side of the road. But a man from Samaria came by, tended to his wounds, took him to an Inn and paid for his stay there until he recuperated. Jesus asked them which of these three had been a neighbour to him. The answer was given, ‘the one who had shown mercy to him’. Jesus replied, ‘go and do likewise’.
Who is our neighbour?
Our neighbour then is anyone we meet in our daily business, in particular anyone who has a need that we can meet. The man from Samaria probably did not know whether this wounded man was a good guy or a bad guy, whether he had good intentions or not, whether he was a follower of Jesus or not, whether he was a member of his own extended family or not, whether he lived close to his own house or not. No… he was simply a man incapable at that moment of helping himself.. a man in need.
If we open our eyes there are people in need all around us. People in need of a friendly hello, people in need of a little practical help.. and certainly people in need of knowing that there is a God who is real and who sent His Son to die in their place.
How tempting it is to cross on the other side of the road. To not engage at all. In the past I confess that I have been one of those people. The type who keeps my eyes down in a lift, who turns my face away from the one asking for money on the streets, who quite likes to keep myself to myself.
I once had a friend who would talk to everyone. She had such a bubbly personality that she seemed to birth life and hope wherever she went. She had an incredible ability to make everyone feel like a close friend almost instantly. I would be amazed at how faces would light up and hearts would open up whenever she was around. I so longed to be able to have that same effect on people.
Of late I have been challenged. The more I get into the Words of Jesus, the more I feel impassioned to tell people of His goodness and of His ability to change their lives – if they will just open the door and let Him in. I have started to force myself to make conversation with people. To engage. It’s amazing the effect and impact it can bring.
Who are ‘the others’?
I have often wondered about the command, ‘love others as you love yourself’.
Henry says – ‘We must first love God with all our hearts, must look upon him as the best of beings… infinitely perfect and excellent; as one whom we have the greatest obligations to, both in gratitude and interest. We must prize Him… devote ourselves entirely to Him. Our love to Him must be sincere, hearty, and fervent; it must be a superlative love, a love that is as strong as death, but an intelligent love… It must be an entire love; He must have our whole souls, and must be served with all that is within us. We must love nothing besides Him, but what we love in Him. We must love our neighbours as ourselves, which we shall easily do, if we love God better than ourselves. We must wish well to all and ill to none. We must do all the good we can in the world and no hurt. We must fix it as a rule to ourselves to do to others as we would want they do to us. This is to love our neighbour as ourselves.
The parable of the good Samaritan is applicable to another purpose… setting forth the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards sinful miserable man. We were like this poor distressed traveller. Satan, our enemy, had robbed us, stripped us, wounded us. We were by nature more than half dead, twice dead, in trespasses and sins; utterly unable to help ourselves, for we were without strength. The ministers of the law had neither pity nor power to help us; but then comes the blessed Jesus, that Good Samaritan, He had compassion on us, He bound up our bleeding wounds (Ps. 147:3; Isa. 61:1), poured in, not oil and wine, but that which is infinitely more precious, His own blood. He takes care of us, and puts all the expenses of our cure on his account… This magnifies the riches of His love, and obliges us all to say, “How much are we indebted, and what shall we give?”
And therefore go and do as the Samaritan did, whenever occasion offers: show mercy to those that need help, and do it freely, and with concern and compassion, though they be not of thy own people, profession, or of your own opinion and communion in religion. Let your charity be thus extensive… “Go, and do like him.” It is the duty of every one of us, in our places, and according to our ability, to help, and relieve all that are in distress and necessity.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
More reasons for needing the Words of Jesus
More reasons for needing the Words of Jesus to heart. This was the motivation for compiling the book ‘What have we done with the teachings of Jesus’. Other Words can be good, even beneficial to our walk. But nothing will save us and move us like the understanding of and the following of the Words that He spoke.
Love is Love is not simply A state of being It is a whole New way of seeing. Love is dying to self, Sharing the tears of all my brothers Love is not a lingering death But a total surrender to others. Love is a complete walk In the certainty of the unknown; Love is the acceptance That nothing is your own. Love is not some form Of outward indication But a total Inward transformation. Love is a heart, A rolling ball Of purified fire Consuming all. Love is everything Without the ‘me’ Love is you When Jesus I see. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Lord, You are Love. And I am in You. May I love like you love. May I be like the Samaritan willing to sacrifice to meet the needs of others. Forgive my selfishness and self preservation. May I be willing to be a drink poured out for others. In Jesus Name. AMEN