Scripture: Matthew 22: 34-40
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Loving Others Through Unity of Purpose
The idea of loving our neighbor as ourselves may seem simple enough if we can relate to our neighbor. But do we feel a common bond with people who look different than we do, or do not share our life experiences?
Loving Others: “Haves” and “Have Nots”
If we come from a family who struggled financially, do we resent the person who seemingly had advantages and status “handed” to them and do we seek to grab what they’ve got? Likewise, if we have some material success, do we resist sharing resources with others? Be mindful that either attitude is destructive. A desire to cling to our “stuff” demonstrates a lack of recognition that God is the universal source of all resources. Similarly, seeking to force others to give demonstrates our lack of Faith in God as provider. None of it is “ours” -instead it is all His.
This is the principle that we see demonstrated in the biblical practice of tithing. We give a percentage of our income back to the “source” and by so doing demonstrate our recognition of God’s provision to us. From personal experience, I know that this practice does immeasurable good not only to the Church and it’s work, but to our own personal finances.
We all are probably conscious of the deep divide that exists in the United States and elsewhere between “rich” and “poor.” There have been prominent debates about what makes a person “rich” or “poor.” We see illustrated in the life of Job a man who experiences both great wealth, status and abundance and utter desperation In this way, we see that
“The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.” Proverbs 22:2.
We are all therefore rich-in that God loves us all and calls us to an abundant life- and we are all poor-without God we are nothing.
Loving Others By Being Unconcerned With Our “Stuff”
If we hold loosely to what we have and use our resources to care for ourselves and our families and also give abundantly to the Church and those around us, we demonstrate Christ’s love to others!
These principles are completely separate from our tax code and system of government. Whatever your individual beliefs about tax reform and entitlements, drop them at the door of the Church. Because within the Church we have our own tax code-God’s word and many “entitlements”-God’s promises. As we let elected officials argue about the role of the government and participate in that process as we are individually led, know that within the Church giving to the poor-“our neighbors” is never optional. It’s a mandate. Let’s do it with gratiude and love for each other! (And, for now, it’s tax deductible!)
All the Best in 2013!