Loving Your NeighborJuly 1, 2023 2023-07-01 8:03
Loving Your Neighbor
Loving Your Neighbor
he commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV)
Paul is quoting from the book of Leviticus when Moses was going through the Ten Commandments and at the end, he says love your neighbor as yourself and do no harm to your neighbor. However, he has changed the quote by using a different word for ‘love.’ In the Old Testament, the term signified an affection for one’s neighbor as we have for ourselves. Paul has moved to a new word for love which is agape. Agape is more than affection. Agape, then, he says fulfills the law. Why the change?
When Paul says love fulfills the law, the word ‘fulfill’ means to replete. To replete is to restore what was depleted. When sin entered man, it created distance between man and God and disfigured the love of God in man. Man can only experience and live in agape through the presence of God within. Sin broke communion and depleted man of agape. To love in agape is to restore the nearness of others to God.
The Old Testament never says that affection will fulfill the law. Affection does not restore the nearness of others to God. However, without the presence of the Holy Spirit, as it was in the Old Testament, affection was as good as it was going to get. But we have been given the Holy Spirit and with Him, the ability to love in agape and restore the nearness of others to God.
When we love in agape, those we love will encounter the presence of God. Even if they want nothing to do with God, even if they have been running from God all their life, agape transports them into the presence of God. No one can be in the presence of God and remain the same. They may reject Him as some rejected Christ. But they may be drawn to Him.
When we are loving others, we don’t always need the right words. We don’t have to have all the answers. We do not even have to explicitly talk about God. To love in agape brings them into the Presence where there is healing for the hurting, hope for the lost, and power to overcome.
Prayer: Lord, let my fear of knowing the right thing to say all the time fall away and let agape increase in me that Your presence may accomplish what no human can. Amen.