Words of Worth

Note to Self: Love My Neighbor

March 15, 2013

notes to do love your neighbor

If you have been joining us in reading Tim Keller’s, King’s Cross, then you might remember the chapter about Jesus’ encounter with a man who thought he knew how to love.

In chapter 10, Mark tells the story of  Jesus meeting someone who has come to be known as “the rich young man”.  However he is known, as the rich young man or the man who thought he knew how to love, he was interested in how to gain eternal life.  In the account we see that the man knelt before Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (vs. 17) This question raised the most important of all spiritual concerns-eternal life. Jesus’ response  in verse 19 was, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” In each of these commandments which Jesus rehearsed, we see that God is really telling us that He requires us to love our neighbor by protecting their lives, their purity, and their  property. Preserving property, honoring someone’s reputation or position in life, are all ways of showing love and abiding by the second greatest commandment.

The young man responded by saying, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”  In other words, in essence he was saying, “Check! Check! Check!” If these laws show the love God requires, then he was claiming he knew how to love, that he had enough love in his heart already. As I’ve tried to imagine myself standing before Jesus, I don’t think I would be able to say, “Hey, no problem.  I’ve been loving people all of my life.”

But as Jesus looked at him, and loved him, He told him that he lacked one thing, “…go sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” In this demand, the young man was being tested to see if he really loved his neighbor by being willing to give to the poor,  and if he loved God enough to give up all he owned and allow God to be all sufficient. As we read v. 22, we see the man didn’t pass the test because the verse says he was disheartened and “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”  Although the young man thought he knew how to love, it turned out he loved money more than he loved Jesus and other people!

As I read Mark 10 (and I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve read this in my lifetime), I too became disheartened to realize that I do not love much more than the rich young man. I put limits on my love. Sure, I’m often ready to give, but only if I have something left over. I’m willing to help someone out, as long as it isn’t too inconvenient. I’m able to love as long as people love me back.

But Jesus looked at the one who thought he knew how to love and loved him (v. 21).

That’s the same way He looks at my sinful, often loveless, heart. I need more of the love of Jesus in my life. Without love I am nothing. But I know Jesus, who does nothing without love. (sv)

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

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