If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right. James 2, verses 6-7.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment found in all of God’s word was to “Love the Lord God with all your heart” and that the second greatest – the one right on the heels of the first – is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Stop right here. If you’re wondering “how do I live as a believer” you now know all you need to know. Don’t walk away thinking that more classes, more time in confession, more learned people will teach you better ways to do things. It doesn’t get any more complicated than this. All you need to know about salvation is found in John 3:16, and all you need to know about what it takes to live as a Christian is found in those words of Christ.
Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus’ brother James echoes these words? After all, James was struggling with ways to encourage new believers in a young church based on a very radical idea. “Love people” was something quite new and astounding in first century Judea. It is today, especially since, millennia later, James can sometimes sound harsh and overbearing (even as we constantly need his reminders).
Yet I’m practically jumping for joy reading that sour old James gives the tender advice that any kindergartner would know to be true. “Love people.” It’s no harder than that. When Jesus said to ‘suffer the little children to come to Me,” He was saying ‘love people.’ When He said ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ He was saying ‘love people.’ And when James then echoes his blood-brother by reminding us that loving our neighbors is the right thing to do, he’s really reiterating Jesus’ command to simply ‘love people.’
Love people because loving people honestly is loving Jesus.
Just last nite, I was reading a Facebook post from a friend who mentioned that “it’s hard to pray for people who constantly make your life hard!” Amen to that. I think, however, that praying those kind of prayers are the most satisfying of all. I know they are to me. It’s not just the ‘heaping burning coals on their heads’ aspect. It’s the ‘love people’ aspect. Folks who torment, vex, frustrate, anger, and hurt us are folks loved by Jesus Christ just like those who don’t do such things. One way to get back in the swing of loving unconditionally is to pray for those who challenge us. Thus, to pray for folks who make our lives hard is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
James and Jesus might just agree.
Lord Jesus, teach me today to better love my neighbors. Open my eyes to see these people, and help me to love them unconditionally, pray for them endlessly, and just be Your ambassador to them.
Who is your neighbor. Don’t take the easy answer: really: who is your neighbor?
Who is vexing you and what can you pray to help them?
How can you better love someone today?