A Clear Command

Note from Jesus

Dear Lover of God,

During My earthly ministry, I was asked: “which commandment is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:36). Quoting Old Testament Scriptures, My reply was

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

(Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

In this two-part answer, it is essential to remember that the first part, loving God, is the basis for the second part, loving your neighbor. As John said,

We love because He

[God] has first loved us. If someone claims, “I love God,” but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters.

(1 John 4:19-21)
Sometimes theologians make things so much more complex than they really are. They did it in My day when I walked the streets of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria. Some still do it in your day. However, as John said, here’s “a clear command”:

“Love your neighbor as yourself”!

This command is what I want to emphasize today and what I want you to live in your life every day.

Arrogance, prejudice against the foreigners, bigotry toward other races, playing favorites based on earthly status, judging people by their appearances, murder, adultery, and covetousness can all be countered by a simple, yet profound, concept:

“Love your neighbor as yourself”!

This command is the Father’s royal law. This order is the law that gives you freedom. This charge is the only debt you should ever owe anyone. Faithfully living this one principle satisfies the heart of the law as you live in relationship with others with the righteous character and gracious compassion of your Father in heaven!

Remembering this principle is important because I care deeply about how you talk to each other and how you talk about each other and how you interact with each other. How you treat those on the margins of your society matters deeply to Me. Whether you care for the widows, orphans, and foreigners among you reveals how closely your heart is aligned with My heart. How you treat the poor, hungry, imprisoned, sick, and those without shelter matters to Me immensely. I care so deeply about these things and these people that your treatment of them will be one of the ways you will be judged to be My disciples on the last day (Matthew 25:31-46).

So practice love and mercy! Give graciously to those in need. Speak blessings and not curses into the lives of those around you. The list could go on and on, but I don’t need to get so specific. I want to remind you again of a clear command, pure and simple. Don’t just know the words, but evaluate how you treat everyone by this standard:

“Love your neighbor as yourself”!

Verses to Live

As I’ve already emphasized, what I want you to understand from the following verses is really pretty simple: “Love your neighbor as yourself”! The Father said it in the law. I said it in My ministry. James and John taught it in their writings. The apostle Paul proclaimed it repeatedly in his letters. So quit quibbling over the details of Scripture. Live the heart of Your Savior. Reflect the character of your Father in heaven. Display the fruit the Spirit longs to bring into your life. Obey this clear command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”!

If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world.

My brothers and sisters, I know you’ve heard this before, but stop playing favorites! Do not try to blend the genuine faith of our glorious Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with your silly pretentiousness. If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewelry, don’t trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless bum crawls in with his shabby clothes and a stench fills the room, don’t look away or pretend you didn’t notice — offer him a seat up front, next to you. If you tell the wealthy man, “Come sit by me; there’s plenty of room,” but tell the vagrant, “Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there,” then you’ll be judging God’s children out of evil motives.

My dear brothers and sisters, listen: God has picked the poor of this world to become unfathomably rich in faith and ultimately to inherit the Kingdom, which He has pledged to those who love Him. By favoring the rich, you have mocked the poor. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the rich who step on you while climbing the ladder of success? And isn’t it the rich who take advantage of you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones mocking the noble name of our God, the One calling us?

Remember His call, and live by the royal law found in Scripture: love others as you love yourself. You’ll be doing very well if you can get this down.

(James 1:26-27; James 2:1-8)

Don’t owe anyone anything, with the exception of love to one another — that is a debt which never ends because the person who loves others has fulfilled the law. The commands given to you in the Scriptures — do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not take what is not yours, do not covet — and any other command you have heard are summarized in God’s instruction: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Does love hurt anyone? Absolutely not. In fact, love achieves everything the law requires.

(Romans 13:8-10)

For the whole law comes down to this one instruction: “Love your neighbor as yourself…”

(Galatians 5:14)

But if you show favoritism — paying attention to those who can help you in some way, while ignoring those who seem to need all the help — you’ll be sinning and condemned by the law. For if a person could keep all of the laws and yet break just one; it would be like breaking them all. The same God Who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also says, “Do not murder.” If you break either of these commands, you’re a lawbreaker, no matter how you look at it. So live your life in such a way that acknowledges that one day you will be judged. But the law that judges also gives freedom, although you can’t expect to be shown mercy if you refuse to show mercy. But hear this: mercy always wins against judgment! Thank God!

(James 2:9-13)

Response in Prayer

O Father, open My heart to love others, especially those in need, as You have loved me. O Jesus, thank You for showing me this kind of love in action through Your earthly ministry. Holy Spirit, keep pouring love into my heart so that it overflows into the lives others. I commit to love my neighbor as I love myself. I ask for your help to live Your righteous character and holy compassion in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.