The Second Greatest Commandment
It’s Harder than the First to Keep – Part III
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:34-40 NLT
Key Verses: Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
This idea of loving people that we consider unworthy or those that have hurt us is all part of Jesus’s words in Matthew:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 NLT)
A form of “taking up our cross” is wrapped up in this idea of loving people that have hurt us in some way or otherwise we think do not deserve it. Look what Jesus added before his command to take up our cross: “you must turn from your selfish ways”.
When someone hurts us, we want revenge or at least an apology. We are so self-focused that sometimes all we can see is our own needs and desires.
The Celebrate Recovery program teaches the idea that “hurt people hurt people”. We need to teach this concept to the entire church body so we can be quicker to forgive people for the junk in their lives that cause them to hurt us.
Looking at another person who has hurt us knowing that others have probably hurt them along the way, and give them the benefit of the doubt, seems too much for us.
It is probably too much to expect this kind of generosity among unbelievers, but is God asking too much of us, His followers? Shouldn’t we consider how much God has forgiven us? Shouldn’t we consider the fact that God loves all people, both the wicked and the righteous? Look what Jesus says in Luke 6: 35-36:
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
Take note of the phrase “the Most High … is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked”. If God is kind to those who certainly are not good people, shouldn’t we also work hard to overcome our selfishness and be kind to them as well?
A large part of the cross that we pick up concerns loving the people around us. Maybe those we find hard to love or treat kindly are family members, co-workers, or neighbors, but pick up that cross and follow Jesus.
Luke 6:36 says, “You must be compassionate”, not “I suggest you be compassionate”. Are you willing to pick up your cross and follow Jesus?
Father, I am willing to love those who are so unlovable, please grant me the strength and wisdom. In Jesus’s Name, amen.