The Second Greatest Commandment
Loving the Unlovely – Part I
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-7 (NLT)
Key Verses: Luke 15:1-2 (NLT) Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that He was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
We cannot talk about mastering the second greatest commandment without addressing the unlovely people around us.
Most of us know people that are unpleasant to be around. That may be more about us than them; other people may find these same people very likeable people. For whatever reason, they rub us the wrong way. It is for these people that we need to ask God for more grace so we can love them as we love ourselves. We in the church sometimes used to refer to these people as “EGN people”, Extra Grace Needed people.
One of the characteristics of Jesus that really bothered the Pharisees and teachers of religious law was Jesus’s love for those that seemed so unlovely to them. In our Key Verses for today, we read of them complaining that Jesus was associating with these unpleasant people; Jesus even ate with them. When we read about the lack of grace for these people by these Jewish leaders, we easily criticize their lack of love.
But isn’t it true that far too many people in our churches today allow petty differences with some of their church family to break friendships or cause splits in their church? This shows that people believe they can love God with all their hearts, souls, and minds but still hold grudges with the people around them.
We must come back to the truth that Jesus declared that the second command is as important as the first:
“A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39)
This leads us to a very important question for all believers: Is there anyone that you treat with less love than you want them to treat you?
When I use the word “love”, I am using the Biblical definition of that word: how you act toward someone, not emotional feelings you have for them. I have often said, the Bible does not tell us we must like everyone, it tells us that we must love everyone with a Christlike love.
There are some people that we will never be able to enjoy being around, but as a Christ-follower, we can always act out love when around them. The Golden Rule tells us that we must treat others as we want them to treat us, not that we must be their best friends.
However, the more we “act” with love to even those we do not want to be around, the more we “feel” good toward them.
Father, help me to continually work toward loving others as I love myself. Remind me to act loving even when I do not feel loving. In Jesus’s Name, amen.