January 31, 2005

Being Right

I believe that there is a high correlation between how much we love God and how much we love others. The degree to which we love God is shown in and by our love for other people. There are many places in the Bible that allude to this fact. One place in particular is seen when Christ is questioned by the pharisees:


But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"

And He said to him, " `YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment.

"The second is like it, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'

"On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
--Matthew 22:34-40


Notice that the question that was asked was, ...what is the greatest commandment? Yet when Christ responds, he responds with Love God... and just like that, Love Your Neighbor. Even though He was only questioned about the one greatest command, He responded with the two commands. Loving God and Loving your neighbor are so tightly bound together that it was almost as if you couldn't say one without saying the other. Together, these two commands are a summary of what God wants you to do.

At a later place, Christ is talking to his disciples about the judgement, and he likens it to a shepherd, seperating the sheep from the goats:


"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left."
-- Matthew 25:32-33

He continues on in this illustration by talking about how the sheep have lived and about how the goats have lived. In fact, the ONLY difference that he mentions is how these people have treated each. He talks about how the sheep have fed and clothed Him, how they have visited Him while He was sick and in prison. Their response is, Lord, when did we do this?!? He immediately responds by saying, "In as much as you have done it to the least of these my bretheren, you have done it unto me... enter into my rest." (Read the full passage here.)

So you can see, your love for God is played out, is demonstrated in your love for other people. But not just anybody... It must be everybody! Here is a sobering thought: Your love for God is best demonstrated in your love for the least of these.

Take a moment to consider that one person in your life that you like the best. Of course you show love to them. As Jesus said, "...even the tax collectors and sinners love those who love them..." But now consider that one person in your life that you like the least. That one person that you find to be irritating or annoying. Think for a moment about your worst enemy. How much do you love them? THAT is the picture of your love for Christ!

If you want to be right with God. It begins by being right with others. It is easy to sing those songs in church about how much you love God. That makes us feel good. But which category do you fall into?

The sheep or the goats?