May 10, 2012

Giving Your Love Away

Matthew 22:39
"And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Our Savior’s teaching, while it is practical, is also always evangelical. He calls believers away from being content with the mere decencies of life and the routine of outward religion, and challenges them to seek after the highest degree of holiness—indeed, after that excellence of character which only His Grace can give. Loving our neighbor is not a condition of salvation, but as a fruit of it. Thus, we give our love away in service.

Jesus’ instruction is also new because it raises the standard. Loving others as ourselves means following the pattern He set for us, and putting the needs of others above our own. That is, loving ALL others, not just friends & family, but everyone. Talk about taking it to a new level of Christian living!

Thing about it in these terms, which Christ taught through the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) -

1. THE WORLD IS FULL OF AFFLICTION. This story is just one among thousands of modern stories that you chance upon, glance or gloss over as you scan the newswpaper, news websites or on television. These are unfortunate occurrences. The happen on short jaunts to the grocery store or on long treks. Life can be lost on the road. We are never secure from trouble—it meets us around the family hearth, walks into our work place and follows us on the road. Again, the daily news attest to this reality.

In the case of the assault victim in the parable, the thieves confronted him and demanded his money, and that when he made some little resistance they wounded him, stripped him and left him half dead. How could he be blamed? It was to him a pure misfortune. Believe me, there is a great deal of sorrow in the world. Some of it is caused by our own doings; other instances, it arrives just because it is part & parcel of living.

The man in the parable was quite helpless. He could do nothing for himself. There he lay dying. Those huge, gaping wounds must've been draining his life away as he bled from his injuries. He probably couldn't even groan, let alone speak, to call out for help. He couldn't even dress his own wounds, much less arise and seek shelter. He was bleeding to death among the pitiless rocks on the descent to Jericho and his was left there for the buzzards and crows to feed upon unless some one came to his help.

But who, pray tell?

2. THERE ARE MANY WHO NEVER RELIEVE AFFLICTION. Our Savior tells us of two, who at least,who passed by on the other side and I suppose He might have prolonged the parable so as to have mentioned 2 dozen or more souls who just walked on by if Christ had chosen to do so.

Note that 2 religious men - a priest & a Levite - pass by the suffering man on the opposite side of the road. Notice that these two men were on the same road going in the same general direction. If the  one couldn't offer aid then certainly 2 could've rendered assistance. Think about that for a minute, Reader! When you're not able to help someone in need, look around because there might be a fellow believer passing by who can help make the difference.

Friend, to know to do good and not do it is a sin (James 4:17). What a tragedy of eternal proportions! Here you have an opportunity to glorify God and instead you become a turtle, tuck your holy head inside your shell and walk on by, doing nothing. Can I ask you something, Reader? Do you even bother to pray for these lost souls? Do you even do that?

We are to relieve real distress irrespective of creed, as the Samaritan did. Let this thought settle in your mind for a little bit. The Samaritan, whom the Jews considered dogs, crossed the invisible line of cultural differences and help the Jew.

Wait!  How do I know that the poor victim was a Jew. In verse 30, he's referenced as traveling from Jerusalem (where the Holy Temple was) to Jericho (probably home). The priest and Levite also both traveled down from that same route. However, the Samaritan journeyed. You see, the Samaritans did not worship in Jerusalem. They were nature lovers, so to speak, and erected altars out in the mountain sides. Even Christ told the woman at the well that the Samaritans did not know what they worshipped (John 4:5-26)

Thus, the Jews were great haters of the Samaritans and, no doubt, this Samaritan might have thought, “If I were in that man’s shoes and he in mine, he would not help me. He would pass me by and say, ‘It is a Samaritan dog, let him be accursed and die like a dog.’” The Jews were accustomed to curse the Samaritans, but it did not occur to the good man to remember what the Jew would have said. He saw him bleeding and he bound up his wounds.

Our Savior has not given us, for a golden rule, “Do unto others as others do to you,” but “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Samaritan went by that rule in spirit and though he knew of the enmity in the Jewish mind, he felt that he should help, that he can help and that he must help. What motivated him to do such a thing? There must've been something that moved his heart to show compassion on another human being. And so, he went straight away to his relief.

Listen, Believer, the poorest of the poor can help the poor. Even those who feel distress, themselves, may manifest a generous Christian spirit and give of themselves what little they have. Because a little bit in your hands is more than sufficient in the hands of the Almighty God. Do so as you have the opportunity.

Read the last part of verse 34, "...and took care of him."

Admire that little sentence, because in it you see what little he had, he gave. Once he had taken care of the poor soul then he sought the inn keeper to "take care of him.” What you do yourself, you may exhort other people to do.

3. WE HAVE A HIGHER EXAMPLE - JESUS CHRIST. Jesus saw our own sin-racked bodies and the condition of our heart (Jer. 17:9) and had compassion on us. God gave us His Son so that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
I had asked earlier who, pray tell, will help?

Reader, it's you. It has to be you. You cannot wait another day. Reach out, Believer, to a dark and dying world. Someone needs to hear about Jesus Christ today.

Seek, then, to be true followers of your Lord by practical deeds of kindness and if you have been backward in your thinking about whom to approach, draw a needful reproach from the Master. Don't with-hold blessings from those who are different from you. Take the initiative by praying for grace to cross the racial, ethnic, cultural, political, socio-economic, etc. barriers. The biggest gap of all - the sin chasm which Christ bridged for you at Calvary - has been closed. So, these other gaps are nothing in comparison for the Lord.

The goal in loving is not to evoke the response you want from another person, but to do what the Lord commands you do. Your willingness to love must never depend upon another person’s ability to give love back to you.

Your challenge as a Christian is to love others even if they don’t love you back. So, you are never without someone to love. Reciprocity is not required for this kind of love. The only thing that is required is your willingness, your desire, and your commitment to open up and give others the love of Christ that dwells in you.

There's someone out there right now as you read this post who needs to know that somebody loves them unconditionally. Christ loves you that way. I'm sure that brings a comfort to your heart, doesn't it? Isn't it time you took that next step of faith to reach out to someone who needs that same comfort? Yes, it's time.

Finally, if you're not saved, Friend, you are missing out on the greatest love known to human kind. Make that decision today and know that Jesus Christ loves you. The proof is at the Cross!

Jesus Paid It All For Me Because He Loves Me!

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

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