Yesterday we began looking at how exactly we can follow Christ’s example, and discussed keeping the greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Matthew 22:37.
Today we’ll talk about the second part of that teaching, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 22:39.
Why would Christ want us to love each other?
How do you treat someone you love? How do you feel towards them? When we remember that we love someone, we treat them kindly, even graciously. We set aside the stray thoughts that enter our minds distracting us from our love for them. We consciously seek to think of ways to show them our love and to do things to make them happy.
At first it’s easy to focus on the things we like about that person. We feel happy and grateful to have them in our lives. Then little by little we start noticing little annoyances. Instead of instantly throwing those stray thoughts out of our minds and concentrating on how much we love them, we give that thought a second thought. And if we are not careful, we all-too-soon find ourselves concentrating on entirely the wrong thing and become extremely upset about it!
And of course, we feel totally justified. 🙂
In our day especially there are so many things that clamor for our time and attention! There are so many things to buy, places to see, things to do, goals to attain to, and so little time, money, and energy. It is very easy to get caught up in these diversions and let them get the better of us!
So what did Christ do in the same type of situation? How did He keep from letting life’s diversions become overwhelming?
Let’s go to John 4. Jesus had traveled through Samaria on His way to Galilee. While there, being weary, He stopped at Jacob’s well to rest. When a woman came to the well, He took the opportunity to engage her by asking her for a drink. It would have been easy enough to ignore her (after all, the Jews usually had nothing to do with the Samaritans) or to lecture her (He knew her life and the choices she’d made). But He decided to reach out to her so He could bless her.
In verse 9 she replied, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?” Instead of simply granting His request, she questioned Him. Christ, refusing to take offense at her reaction, answered her. She then argued with Him, on every point He brought up.
Rather than becoming angry, giving up on the whole idea, or any of the myriad of reactions He could have had in this situation, Christ remembered His love for this daughter of God. He calmly continued guiding her until she realized who He was and what He was offering her, at which time she believed in Him and ran to tell others.
When we love one another as Christ did, we are following His example and we become more patient, understanding, and loving. This enriches us by giving us better relationships. We feel closer to God and Christ, and we become more Christ-like.
It also blesses those around us! When they feel loved, they don’t feel they have to constantly defend themselves. They calm down. And God can more easily reach them to bless their lives and help them learn and grow.
And suddenly there is peace on earth.