In Luke 10 a certain lawyer arose to try to test Jesus, asking “What am I to do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus replied “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The lawyer said “You must 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 your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said “you have answered correctly.”
In my way of thinking, this is the “bottom line” for Christians.
Maybe, just maybe it is the bottom line for our behavior this Christmas and for the new year.
It is a simple sounding goal, yet it is not simple either. Love is such a symbolic term and it can be interpreted so many ways [love of the soul, love of the mind, love of the child, etc.]. In addition, how much love is enough? When do you know you have dedicated yourself enough to your Father? All your heart? All your soul? All your strength? All your mind?
Being humans with fleshly bodies and minds, we constantly wonder, “Have I done enough?”
What does the lawyer mean by loving your neighbor? Helping them? Giving them money? Telling them how much you admire them? Whatever we are supposed to do, we are supposed to do it to others as we would want it done to ourselves.
Yes, the instructions are a bit unclear, but the goal is so appropriate as we think about the gifts we receive this Christmas. The greatest gift is expressed in the most popular verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” [John 3:16].
Should we not pass our gift of love onto others?
My thoughts are not earth-shaking and hardly original, but this is the time of year when we need to pause and assess how we are fulfilling the greatest command and the second greatest commandment: “the bottom line.”
Are you finding a way to express love in our world today?
Maybe there is a phone call to a friend that is long overdue. Can you pick up a pile of leaves in your neighbor’s yard or can you offer to nail a loose gutter to their house? Maybe they are elderly and have a hard time getting things done? While sitting in a hospital waiting room, can you ask about another person’s injury and express your concern that they get well soon? Can you volunteer at church accomplishing a short term project—maybe sorting food for food baskets? When you want to say something incendiary about politics, maybe you stop and keep your thoughts to yourself.
Love expression opportunities are all around us…literally.
As Christians we should be the leaders of the world in showing others how to love. We should be showing others how to love God and in the process, God’s love will direct us to how to love others around us.
In a day and time when love is in such short supply…
Our behavior can help turn the negative tide that sometimes seems to envelop our world, you know, all the expressions that are so selfish and hurtful. All the expressions that get the attention of the news media. There is only one way to fight this trend that will probably never end.
We have to fight it by learning to show love. We have to obey the greatest commandment.
Don’t worry about how much you give to others, just give. Don’t compare your effort with the efforts of others, just make your effort. Don’t overthink the process of giving your love to another, just give it.
This Christmas, we cannot give enough love and our neighbors can’t get too much love.
Do your part to change the world this Christmas. Learn to give love.