Neighborly Love, Godly Love

Adam Stout

READ : Leviticus 19:9-18

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge . . . but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (v. 18)

Some laws are easy to keep. Don’t litter. Stay under the speed limit (alright, that’s not so easy for some of us). In Leviticus, laws like “Don’t round off your beard” or “Don’t eat uncooked meat” seem easy enough to keep. But verses 17 and 18 get increasingly difficult: “Don’t hate your brother in your heart . . . don’t take revenge . . . don’t bear a grudge.” And then comes the biggie: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Did you know that was from Leviticus?

We keep this big law by observing many small ones. For example, today there are laws about picking up after our dogs. Though it might sound strange to someone from an earlier time (picking up after dogs?), laws like this are based on the idea of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. They’re a form of neighbor love.

The law says we are not to bear a grudge. We are to love others, even in confrontation. But how? The answer lies in the statement: “I am the Lord.” God has loved us even when we disobeyed and looked the other way, something much bigger than canine carelessness. Only by seeing how God loves us can we begin to understand neighbor love.

PRAYER

God of second chances, help us to love like you love.