Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #46 --- Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
Quotations on Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
Just as long as you can talk about loving your neighbor, you can put off doing anything about it. A lot of religious people do that all the time. They talk about meeting the needs of people and even plan programs of help and service. They discuss all aspects of the problem and adopt resolutions to study the matter further--all the time putting off any real action. Sometimes they talk about the whole subject long enough to convince themselves that the problem is really too great to handle.
The [Good Samaritan] never asked: "Is this man my neighbor?" He didn't waste time asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking himself, "Is the wounded man the kind I should help?" he just saw the man's problem and did something about it.
The Samaritan did not even say to himself: "I wonder if the man can pay me back." Or: "I wonder if he will resent it when he wakes up and finds out that I'm a Samaritan," someone to whom he would not have given the time of day if he were in his right senses.
He didn't wonder about the robbers; whether they were still around and might finish him off, too. He didn't worry about himself. When a man is busy doing what a man after God's own heart is supposed to do, loving his neighbor as well as he loves himself, he doesn't have time to ask the wrong questions.
Don't ask yourself the wrong questions, my friend. Don't ask whether it is worth getting involved, or whether people deserve your efforts, or whether they really are your neighbors. There is only one question: Which of you will prove to be a neighbor to people who need help in the teeming cities of the world and in the expansive countryside?
—Oswald C.J. Hoffman, Lutheran Witness Reporter, St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 18, 1968.
Jesus asserted the law of equity, justice, the principle of love. ... It is the root from which all other spiritual ideas grow. All of religion is in the doctrine: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
There is endless good will and cooperation in it, righting of wrongs, bearing of burdens, happy and contented industrial and commercial life is in it, wise laws, noble democracies are in it, free states and harmonious united people.
There is in it the fullest amount of individual satisfaction and rest, the tranquility of a good conscience, the joy of a good heart, the high self-respect which comes with duty done, the pure aspiration which comes with duty yet to do, justness of thought, sweetness of sentiment, firmness of purpose, straightforwardness of will.
This high attainment of character only comes by a decisive battle in the region of moral purpose, a triumph that will set our faculties free for the good service of which we are conscious they are capable, but a triumph which may be delayed by our own halting purposes or vicious courses.
This moral ideal is practical, for whenever it is applied to the extent of its application it brings order out of disorder, peace out of war, harmony out of dissension, ease out of difficulty, sympathy out of antagonism.
—George B. Gilmour, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, June 23, 1913.
Love does not ask if the other person deserves what we are doing; he may even be a cruel and relentless enemy. Neither does love consider the expense of toil and sacrifice and the suffering the intervention may cost; it stops at nothing in order to benefit and relieve. Love identifies itself with others so as to suffer their adversities and pains.
—Fulton J. Sheen, North-Central Louisiana Register, Alexandria, La., Sept. 2, 1955.
There is a freshness of vigor and a startling inspiration, it seems to me, in the teachings of Christ with reference to the individual and his concern for himself. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” There is no limitation there of the height and depth and strength in which we shall love ourselves. There is only the mighty qualification that as we love ourselves we shall love others. If religion could mean, in practice, the application of this sublime teaching, there would be solved many difficulties that afflict and fret the human family today.
—Carl A. Badger, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 16, 1933.
[Read John 13:12-17, 34-35; John 14:21-24.] “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” In this commandment, which embraces the whole law (according to Christ), self-love is assumed and is there made the standard for the love of neighbors. This love should be based on a new foundation, a higher plane, thus giving us the idea that it is more than love of self. In making this comparison we should not forget that it incorporated the “motive” idea as well. “Since I have loved you unto death you should also love one another for in so doing you are really loving me. That is, you are loving through me for what I have done and for what I am.”
This “New Commandment” is the commandment of Him who asks nothing that He has not provided, and now offers to bestow. It is not merely the hinge of the Law and the Prophets, but it is the assurance that we are able to do it because of Him. “As I have loved you, and every moment am pouring out that love upon you through the Holy Spirit, even so do ye love one another.” Or, as someone has said, “The measure, the strength, and the work of your love you find in my love to you. True love knows no measure, it gives itself entirely.”
This love is ever whole and undivided, attaining divine height as it grows. Somewhat like the Father and Son, two persons, who in love remain one, each losing Himself in the other.
—James Cales, Religious Herald, Richmond, Va., March 11, 1954.
"And a second like unto it is, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 22:39.)
The command expressed in the words of this text has back of it all the authorities. First, given by Moses; taken up, enlarged and repeated by Jesus; emphasized by Paul and James; acknowledge as being of universal obligation by Jew, and Catholic, and Protestant. This is the command, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." But this is not the whole story.
This command has three marks of distinction. Let us review them. Jesus placed this command next to the first and greatest of all commands, declaring it to be like the first. Jesus would have us believe that there is only one command that has precedence over this command of loving our neighbor, and that is the command to love God. He further declares that this command has the same qualities of greatness in it as the first.
The second mark of distinction is in the fact that Jesus declared that on this command, taken with the first, the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.
The third mark of distinction borne by this command grows out of the second. The third is the declaration on the part of the Apostle that in keeping this command all law is fulfilled.
Let us attempt to emphasize the centrality of this command by use of an illustration. I wonder how many boys ever tried to burn a whole in a paper by placing it under a piece of glass upon which the sunlight was falling. The glass gathers together the rays of light and focuses them on a spot on the paper. The heat of the focused ra
ys is sufficient to burn the paper.
In religion there are just two focuses, love for God and love for thy neighbor; there is not a single duty toward God or man outside of these focuses. If time permitted we would press our illustration further and show that just as it is impossible for the eye to tell where is the dividing line between the rays of light falling on the two focuses, so it is impossible to separate the duties that belong to God from those that belong to man. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also."
Do you think I have exaggerated the importance of these two commands, Love for God, and Love for man, at the expense of other duties not comprehended in them? Charge the exaggeration against Jesus, and Paul, for both emphatically declare that in the sphere of religion there are but two great focuses, Love for God, and Love for man.
Within that stream, love for thy neighbor, is included a regard for his life. "Thou shalt not kill." Within that steam of love is included regard for his home. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Within that stream is a regard for his property. "Thou shalt not steal." Within that stream is included a regard for his good name. "Thou shalt not bear false witness." A genuine love for our neighbors would reduce gossip by 50 percent. We are not going to pass on rumors concerning those we love. Within that stream of love is included a regard for everything that belongs to our neighbors. "Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor's."
—Charles L. King, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, June 10, 1956.
To love thy neighbor as thyself sounds simple, but its significance is tremendous. It means the realization by each of us that every other human being is a brother, ... that his life and welfare should be the same to you as your own. What are the facts about our present attainments in compassion? Perhaps there are not many so unfortunate that they do not know at least one person for whom they would sacrifice life itself. Then comes a circle of friends, who have their active good will, and for whom they would make small sacrifices of time or money. Next comes a circle of acquaintances with whom they are on good terms. Beyond is the great world of strangers, about whom they know little, and for whom they would not dream of making any sacrifices, however small.
What is the soil that would develop this divine attribute of compassion? If you want to find real friends look for them among those who have gone through real hardships and dangers together. It is here in the physical world where we are necessarily dependent upon each other, where we are compelled to consecrate to sustain life that we find the environment suitable for the growth of compassion. Can you conceive a better arrangement for that than the little group we call the family? There, more than anywhere else, selfishness is subdued and sacrifices for others encouraged.
—L.W. Rogers, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 15, 1914.
Life is love and love is life. Hatred is poison and a form of death. In a world full of hatred life is a living death. Since God is love, He can be known only by love, not by argument. The only death that Jesus feared was the death of the soul, through lovelessness.
Love is not a sticky sentimentalism, or a coddling indulgence. It is vision, power, creativity, fellowship. To love a person is sincerely to desire his highest good, and we dare not do anything else. To love our neighbor as ourselves is not an impossible idealism; it is a practical necessity.
The world is full of brotherhoods, fraternities and clans. They are brotherhoods for those inside, but often hatehoods for those who are excluded. The trouble is that we build walls around the word brotherhood, but in the Bible is has no walls. The mind of Jesus knows nothing of the little fences we build; it overleaps barriers as the Spring overleaps our garden wall and floods the world.
—Joseph Fort Newton, New York Times, New York, N.Y., July 31, 1939.
"And the second commandment is like unto the first: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 22:39.) Let us be honest; has God demanded the impossible? Is it possible to feel about one's neighbor as closely as he feels about himself? These questions must be answered as honestly as we know how because our world is suffering from the disease of lovelessness, a disease that is malignant.
Let us begin by noticing that the commandment is not a mild suggestion, not a pale, ethical statement on human relations, not a weak prompting. Instead, an imperative command, it is an order given, carrying the force of, "You do it." But the question keeps coming up, "Can one obey a command to love?" Isn't love a spontaneous thing that flows out of life without coercive stimuli? One would think that of all the areas that should remain inviolate it would be that of love. Wherein is man free if love is coerced? What right has God to command our loving? He has every right to do exactly that! God has made us, and One can do with His own what He pleases.
Love is the only force that can conquer selfishness, and thus to conquer is the prime mission of God on earth. It is not enough to be prim, clean, honorable, and correct; one can be thus while remaining icy cold in his human relations. Without love religion makes no sense, and this is the sense that God has given to religion.
Musicians are agreed that when a note is sounded, the adjacent notes instantly reverberate to the ear of a real musician. If middle C is struck, the notes of B and D are nearby in the philosophy of music to a tuned ear. When the middle C of love is struck on life's dispassion, then all related virtues are set in vibration. From this harmonious note must be played all the music of interpersonal relationships. Yes, it is a divine command (this business of loving) primarily because God knows that most of us would never do it if we were left to our own volition.
The same reasoning runs through the armed forces so far as orders are concerned. That is why the armed forces do not leave it up to every private as to whether he wants to sleep through calisthenics, or whether he wants to go into battle. There would be few battles won if each could write his own orders. Isn't that dictation? In a very definite sense it is. But until man learns to do by free volition what must be done, then God has to keep on telling us, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
It should be remembered that this commandment did not come until man had been commanded to love God first. Man will never love and can never love his neighbor until he learns to love the Creator of his neighbor. God's kind of love is the only incubator of man's love to man. This is the starting point for this miraculous relation. When man loves God sufficiently, the rest comes easily. One will never have an honorable estimate of others, nor be willing to go out of his way on behalf of others until it stems from heart love for God.
Now let us look at the meaning of this all-powerful emotion called love. Herein is a mammoth problem. Most of our lives we have been told to love everybody: the unlovely, the cantankerous, the miser, cheat, drunkard, our enemies--everybody! As a young boy, I had about concluded that God was demanding the impossible for I surely didn't love everybody and, as a matter of fact, I could count up by the scores those whom I not only didn't love, but also I fairly hated. Do you mean that one must have an affectionate feeling about the gossipy neighbor, or about the man who always contests the fence row, or the merchant down the street who shortweighs the groceries? Now that many races are set against each other by all types of movements, what role is love to play in this problem?
The word love is as misunderstood as is the word perfect in the Bible. When Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect . . ." (Matthew 5:48), He was not demanding sinless perfection because sinless perfection is an impossibility to imperfect man. It is true that a Christian is not to commit sin willfully, but there is never a time when the consciousness of no sin isn't the bigger of sins. Perfection in the language of the New Testament means "usable," a life put at God's disposal--"be ye therefore usable."
Now, about that word love. How am I to love my enemies who are trained to take my life? It is unfortunate that the word love in English is so limited in meaning--four little letters have to contain all that we mean. The language which Jesus used has several words to convey the various shades of meaning, not just one. One of their words was used to convey passionate, deep emotion--the kind of activity that would result in an embrace, a close, intimate action. Another word, agapa, did not mean passionate warmth at all, but intelligent good will, respect, esteem, an emotion based on reason, aggressive care.
Now it is this word which is used to convey what God wants to happen between people. He never expects us to have a passionate feeling about everybody. That would be absurd. Nor does He expect one to embrace his enemies (especially if the enemies are not of our making). The cheat, drunkard, or liar is not to be regarded with the affection that one does his wife or husband. Not that at all. Instead, there must be intelligent good will among men; God's kind of folks are to demonstrate aggressive care, concern with muscle in it, forgiveness to the point of initiative, esteem that will not permit stooping to low levels of harm or hurt. This is the kind of thing that God has demanded between human beings.
Such an interpretation will come as a shock to many who have regarded God and His love as a weak, indulgent sentiment and have regarded His commandments to love as a sort of pale, puny virtue that somehow or other is to be spread around over all human nature no matter how cantankerous or obstreperous.
Reread the twenty-third chapter of Matthew's Gospel and see if Jesus displayed this kind of false notion of love toward the Scribes and Pharisees. He was indignant and called them 'generation of vipers' (and that isn't very complimentary). Does this mean that Jesus lost His temper and His love in a fit of wrath? Not at all. It means instead that love has a dimension of muscle which transcends the thin veneer of emotion, that love's intelligent good will rise up to condemn evil and evil men without violating any facet of love's own genius.
Then who is my neighbor, and to whom must I show this intelligent good will? The folks down the street? My section of the country? Just my race? When they asked Jesus the same question, He said that a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves who whipped him, robbed him, and left him to die in the ditch. Soon a priest came along and passed him without showing any expressed concern. The same thing happened when a Levite passed him. Then a Samaritan came along, stopped, got down on the level with the man, helped him up, bound his wounds, carried him on to Jericho, put him in an inn, and paid his bill. This man, the Samaritan, Jesus said was the true neighbor. He demonstrated intelligent good will. He put his feeling into practice.
He did not survey the miseries of the man, then file a report to the welfare agency, and wash his hands in a professional dismissal as though a report to any agency or a request to God in prayer was a substitute for what needed to be done by him, then and there. Nor did he go on into Jericho and preach a sermon on the "sin" that caused the man to be robbed and left in the ditch. The real sermon needed in that case was the one he preached--that of being a neighbor in brotherly love.
In that sense of the word he loved this total stranger as himself. That is, he would have done the same thing to his own wounds had he been able. Yes, God is here encouraging a type of self-love, not a negative, detrimental self-love. Jesus spent much of His time condemning this kind of attitude, but a positive, constructive self-love is all-important for unless a person can love himself aright, he cannot love anyone else, least of all his enemies. This kind of self-love causes respect for God's love and the right for all others to be loved.
God wants us to love our bodies in a way that we shall respect them as the temples of the soul, and to love our personalities in a way that brings them under the tutelage of God's own nature. Then the acid test: one cannot despise his neighbor while loving him as he loves himself; nor can he deal harm and subtle injustice to another because he is of a different race, that is, while he is showing him esteem and intelligent good will.
Our world needs a lot of things; but it needs nothing as much as it needs a good case of old-fashioned, down-to-earth, up-to-heaven, honest-to-God love for one another. This is the only thing in the world that the more of it you give away, the more of it you have.
—Roy O. McClain, The Beam, Fort Worth, Texas, May 1958.
Love is spirituality in action. It is an inner sensitivity to the feelings, needs, and natures of others, coupled with an active desire to assist them in their pursuit of happiness and salvation, which manifests itself in service. In other words, to my mind a definition for love and a definition for spirituality would be essentially the same. I can't see much difference between the two. ...
Love grows best in the soil of service. ... The love of neighbor results from the Law of Love, and I think the Law of Love is service. Service is the letter of the law leading to the spirit of the law; and unless service does not lead to love, as we said in terms of motive, then it's vain. That we serve is very important, but it's our reaction, it's what we feel from serving that's important to us. If we don't learn to love those whom we serve, what has service accomplished in our life? ...
We're not expected to lose ourselves in others, but to find ourselves in others. We are expected to love others as we love ourself, to recognize that they have needs and rights, that they have a place in this universe we're all sharing at this time. And so we ought to do unto others as we would have others do unto us.
A living love requires action. It's not enough to sit back and say with folded hands, "Oh, how I love my fellow men! Oh, how I love them." ...
Can we love our fellow men when it's not convenient to love them? Or must we always love in a convenient manner--from the arm chair, if you please? Is that how we love? Are we willing to go out of our way, to sacrifice some of the things we want, give up some of our conveniences to do it? Then, I think, we're manifesting a meaningful love. ...
To be of a complete spiritual nature, we must not only love God. We must also love our fellow man. But we cannot love our fellow man from a mountain top even though some ... claim they can come to love God best from such a vantage point. But we cannot love our neighbor from the forest or mountain top because we cannot serve them there. If we are to come to love our neighbor, we must be where we can serve our neighbor.
—Rodney Turner, The Law of Love, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 18, 1954.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Notice the phrase "as yourself." Sometimes Christianity can be considered selfish. It isn't really–but the reason Christianity can be called selfish is because society and maybe even religion has taught us that we are not supposed to love ourself. If we go by scripture we are to love ourself–Christ assumes that we love ourself. It is this self-love and self-respect that we use as a model to love our neighbor. What society sometimes tells us is that we are supposed to love everybody else first, then if any is left over--then we can love ourself--but that isn't very noble.
Our primary love is to God and we are to love our neighbor. We are also supposed to love ourself. God loves His people. In Genesis He said we were good. In Psalm 8 we are considered a "little lower than the angels." We can't consider the time God spends loving you a waste. Right now get out a pencil and paper and write down 15 good things about yourself. If you are like most people this will come with difficulty. It's easy for us to think of the bad things. How can you love other people if you don't think anything of yourself? When you write down these good things about yourself share them with your family and ask them to do the same. God has blessed you.
—Charles Beem, Fulton Daily Sun-Gazette, Fulton, Mo., Sept. 27, 1975.
Love is not a parasite. It never hangs upon its object merely for the benefits it expects. Love clings for the purpose of communicating well as receiving. To love God is to delight in pleasing Him. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15.) One who loves his neighbor takes pleasure in bestowing benefits on him, and knows from experience that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35.)
—J.M. Buckley, Christian Advocate, New York, N.Y., Aug. 29, 1899.
Surely there is no lesson that we need to learn to much as the lesson of love, and the fact that there can be no hope or happiness for humanity except where loving relationships are established among men.
Jesus made the message of love distinctive in that He applied it to every phase and relationship of life. He did not set it up as the bond between men in an ideal society, saying, “A day will come when all men will love one another, and when we shall have a society where that love is possible.” He brought His message of love into the world of actual humanity with its varying interests and with all its conflicting jealousies and hatreds. And He said that the only way of bettering this world was where men learned, even in these very conditions, to love their enemies.
It is natural and easy to love one’s friends. Only an abnormal man fails to feel affection for those of his own kin and of his own tribe. But Jesus saw in such love, pleasant as it might be, no real gain or overcoming. “If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye?” It is when one’s love reaches out more widely and deeply to the overcoming of hate and selfishness that love really lifts man and society to a higher level.
This is where the emphasis must be–not only upon love, nor upon love only to one’s neighbors, but upon love to one’s enemies. We must view even the most evil of men and the worst of oppressors and persecutors of today with hope and with a yearning for human redemption. It is easy, in the presence of the horrible atrocities that are being perpetrated, to vent our feelings in bitter denunciation. In fact, it is almost impossible not to do so.
But our effectiveness in overcoming these things will depend upon what we are doing in a positive way to counteract the wrong. We may express a great deal of sympathy for victims at a distance, but are we willing to receive and help these victims in our own land? We may condemn with bitterness dictators in other countries, but are we heedless of the interferences with liberty that are increasingly evident in our own land?
Thus, in this world, we must preach and live the doctrine of the good neighbor, but we must do even more. We must seek to build up a neighborly world where enemies, through love, may become neighbors.
—William E. Gilroy, Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa., Dec. 10, 1938.
Love your neighbor for what he is and not for what he has.
—George G. Benedict, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sept. 12, 1936.
Don’t “love your neighbor as yourself” until you get acquainted.
—D.A. Brown, Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 1, 1908.
He who has no love for his neighbor forfeits the love of God.
—James DeForest Murch, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 23, 1940.
The very highest proof of the soundness of your creed is found in the fact that you love your neighbor, whose creed is different from yours.
—Nephi Jensen, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 3, 1928.
If we would only look through love's glasses there would be no difficulty in loving to our neighbor as ourselves. There would be no harsh or unjust criticism of him. The glasses of love penetrate beyond the dross and the sordid, the temporal and material, and see him as he is. ... Love sees charity where the green glasses of envy saw selfishness; it sees encouragement where the blue glasses of discouragement saw only hopelessness; it sees devotion and faithfulness where the yellow glasses of jealousy saw only acts of unfaithfulness; love sees only love where the dark glasses of hate saw only the base and the low.
Love works miracles before our very eyes.
It transforms the repulsive and unattractive into beauty and symmetry. It converts enemies into friends, and foes into comrades. It grows flowers where there were thorns; supplants the bitter with the sweet, and puts joy and happiness where before misery and woes held sway. ...
No one is good who does not love.
Love is the foundation of goodness, and he who does not love his fellowman is not good and cannot be until he does. Love is the well-spring of goodness; it is its fountain-head; it comes from no other source.
—Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 20, 1918.
A law of life is the interdependence of all humanity. It is easily recognized that some persons are too dependent upon others. The infant is dependent upon his mother. The destitute are dependent upon those who will help. But dependence is only half the story. The other half is interdependence. We are all mutually or reciprocally dependent.
Above everything else, the Biblical admonition to "love thy neighbor" implies interdependence. One synonym for "love" as used in this sense, is to assist or help. Love that is not translated into action is phony. It is significant that the 'love thy neighbor' commandment is second only to the commandment to love God.
If a neighbor's needs were all material, then it would be impossible for all to participate in this mutual effort. In a material way, what can a pauper do for the millionaire? What can we give that person of wealth that would be of any material value to him?
But the greatest needs of humanity are neither material nor financial. The greatest needs are psychological, spiritual, sociological.
There is the person who by himself is unable to bear the many pressures of life. How many suicides would be alive today, living constructive and good lives, had they only a friend to reassure and comfort them in a moment of dependence! How many would be here had someone bothered to help them put all the facts of life in proper perspective!
How many persons have gone to untimely graves or to mental institutions because "nobody cared"! How many persons have 'gone wrong' because nobody bothered to lend them a helping hand, nobody bothered to expect something of them, nobody bothered to get them back on the right track!
All about us are those who are fighting the battles of life--and many of them are losing. Yet, in our unconcern and indifference we do nothing to help them win.
Oh, if it cost five or 10 dollars to help, we'd instruct our bookkeeper to send them a check. We wouldn't let them starve physically. But we will permit them to starve for a lack of friendship, companionship and a sympathetic ear that will listen to their troubles.
More often than not, the one who is most needy has the biggest bank account. The one who can help the most may feel the most inadequate as he views his supposed inability to help.
"What could significant little me do for a person like that?" we ask ourselves.
Such a question might be asked by the helpless infant as he views his own inadequacies and the strength and material security of his father. But we all know there is much he can and does do for his father.
And the most self-sufficient person knows what it means to have a friend stand by during a time of personal crisis. He knows what it means to have a friend during a time of sorrow, one who understands his weaknesses as well as his strength, one who with a handshake, an understanding look, or a gesture of friendship lets it be known that he cares and sympathizes.
The prime example of interdependence is God and man. ... Just as the one-year-old son can give his father that which money cannot buy, so is that man who has a capacity to do for God what which even He is incapable of securing from any other source.
—H.M. Baggarly, Tulia Herald, Tulia, Texas, Dec. 25, 1958.
In a world filled with political and warlike disturbances such as we find today, it is time that we, as individuals and communities, stop and examine our efforts at living, and persuading others to live, the commandment of "love" as taught by our Lord in the New Testament.
Man's unhappiness seems to have grown in proportion to his power over the exterior world. But this should not necessarily be so. God made man the ruler of the earth, and all science participates in some way in the wisdom and providence of the Creator. But the trouble is that unless the works of man's wisdom, knowledge and power participate in the merciful love of God, they are without real value for the world and for man. They do nothing to make man happy, and they do not manifest in the world the glory of God.
But what is love, and how do we come to love as sons of God? The reality of love is judged by its power to help man get beyond himself. True love leads a man to fulfillment, not by drawing things to himself, but by forcing him to transcend himself and to become greater than himself. True spiritual love takes the isolated individual, exacts from him labor, sacrifice, and the gift of himself. It demands that he "lose his life" in order to find it again on a higher level–in Christ.
To put this real love of others into practice, then, requires of us that we "labor" at it, that is, that we make an effort to practice what Christ preached--"By this shall man know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." (John 13:35.)
True love of our fellowman will be shown by our willingness to help him–by our transforming ourselves, so to speak, into our neighbor, making us able to see things as he sees them, love what he loves, experience the deeper realities of his own life as if they were our own. True love of our fellowman will be shown by our willingness to "sacrifice" in order to bring about in the world our own and our neighbor's happiness.
And this willingness to work and sacrifice for the love of God and our fellow human beings will bring about our giving of ourselves, our talents, our energies, for the sake of peace and happiness in the world.
Only when we as individuals do our utmost, working with others, to bring about the real true brotherly love that Christ intended, only then will there be here on earth peace and harmony among individuals and nations--and only then will there be happiness for all men--all based on the first love of God for us.
—A.M. Chenevert, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., June 2, 1963.
Our great resource is people. The way we treat each other has been and will be our strongest asset. This way of holding each other in positive regard is what others will see and want to participate. My training and discipline allows me to be reflective and to seek connections between important parts of our life, both as an individual and as a community. The quality of our interactions reminds me, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," which is the other side of "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Our interactions give us a chance to serve God in each other.
—Bruce Green, Amarillo Globe-Times, Amarillo, Texas, July 27, 1990.
A woman in Springfield, Mass., took her small son to the doctor for a routine checkup.
In the course of the examination, the doctor tried to get the child to open his mouth wide so that he could examine his tonsils. But suddenly Junior balked. For some reason he positively refused to open his mouth. Neither pleas nor threats made any impression on him.
Finally the mother tried a little psychology. "Look, dear, it's very easy," she said. As she opened her mouth wide to show the child the doctor couldn't help but see her tonsils. Then he frowned. "Hmmmm," he said to the boy's mother, "Your tonsils will have to come out, too!"
Keep trying to help others regardless of what handicaps or faults you personally may have. All through the Gospels you can read of persons with many defects whom Jesus Christ used as His instruments in reaching others.
But at the same time take care that you make a since and continued effort to make yourself a more effective Christbearer by removing your defects. One of the best ways to do this is to be generously interested in the shortcomings of others. It is one of many blessings that God bestows on those who strive as best they can to put into practice His command: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 19:36.)
—James G. Keller, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, July 1, 1954.
[Read Luke 10:25-37.] I feel sure that the lawyer mentioned (verse 25) was familiar with the Plan of Salvation by grace which Jesus had months before given the world (John, Chapter 3). He knew that Jesus had said that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.)
I think that when he asked Jesus what he should do to inherit or earn eternal life he was, as is said, trying to tempt or test Jesus. He wished to discus, not salvation or eternal life by grace, but eternal life under the law. Jesus accepted that as the basis for the discussion and answered, "What is written in the law? What readest thou?" When the lawyer quoted from the law as to love of God and love of neighbor, Jesus told him to keep the law. He said, "This do and thou shalt live." The lawyer knew, however, that he never had and never could perfectly keep the law and switched the conversation.
He asked, "Who is my neighbor?" After Jesus had spoken the parable which we know as the parable of the Good Samaritan (verses 30 to 37) and had explained it to the lawyer, that seemed to end matters. So far as we know, the lawyer never pursued the matter further.
But bringing the lesson down to date: Whether a man of this day and time has or has not accepted the Plan of Salvation (John, Chapter 3) and is or is not a follower of Jesus Christ the Savior, he can be helped by this Parable of the Good Samaritan, this story about "Who is my neighbor?"
In studying the lesson let us think of the road "from Jerusalem to Jericho" (verse 30) as the highway of life and the persons stated to have been on that road as typical of persons we nowadays meet on the highway of life. Let us see which of them is our neighbor.
Are the robbers our neighbors? To realize the seriousness of what these robbers did we must consider how many people were in some fashion touched or affected by what they did. The five--the injured man, the Priest, the Levite, the good Samaritan, and the innkeeper--were not the only ones affected. To illustrate: Did you ever read the story of King David's sin in robbing Uriah of his wife and his life (2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12), and figure up the large number of people who were in some way touched or affected thereby?
But we greatly err if we do not recognize and acknowledge as our neighbors the man who stole the injured man's clothes, wounded him and left him "half dead" by the road side. Jesus during His ministry on earth often helped men of this type and as He hung on the Cross recognized and saved one of them (Luke 23:39-43).
I press the point that nowadays men and women who rob and kill, the gamblers, and the women of the street, the embezzlers, and those who practice perjury–all those whom we think of as law breakers, etc. –are, under the teachings of Jesus, our neighbors.
And, of course, every one of us thinks of the injured man as our neighbor. And nowadays whether he was injured by robbers or by accidents due to drunk drivers or negligent drivers, or otherwise, we are happy to provide him, as did the good Samaritan, with medical ambulance and hospital care.
The injured man was also the neighbor of the Priest and the Levite who "passed by on the other side" because of indifference, urgent business elsewhere, or maybe because they did not love the Lord and their neighbor. And do not forget that they are our neighbors.
Of course, we have no difficulty and acknowledging as our neighbor the good Samaritan who rescued the injured man and the keeper of the inn who did his part in taking care of him.
One of the points in the lesson is found in the reasons which moved the good Samaritan to act. It is said that he "had compassion on" the injured man. I think the good Samaritan was a big-hearted fellow who loved the Lord. Also he loved people--good, bad and indifferent. He wanted to see the robbers of the injured man arrested, tried, and punished, but he had compassion on and loved them, too.
The high point in the lesson is that all of us, every one of us, ought to feel that every human being everywhere is our neighbor and we are his neighbor and that, as did the good Samaritan, we ought to have compassion on him and minister as best we can to his needs.
—Thomas Martin Kennerly, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Dec. 9, 1955.
[Others] love you because you loved them, and just to that extent that you love them will they love you. Thus your constant uprightness and purity before them will cause them to love you as themselves, and it will be the means of cementing you together so strongly that nothing shall harm you, but you shall be like a threefold cord which cannot be broken. ... When you see men put forth laws to terrify and intimidate, that is not done by the Spirit and power of God. ... Seek to govern in love, and [others] will love you. ... Never seek to be great, but to be good!
—Franklin D. Richards, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, May 22, 1852.
It is difficult to define love. In and of itself it is practically undefinable, but it receives support and strength principally from such virtues as charity, kindness, unselfishness, generosity, courtesy and service; or considering it from another viewpoint, these virtues might be compared to channels or tributaries through which love finds expression. Love is so extensive as to embrace everything of an elevating or constructive nature; without it our lives would become an empty shell.
Love molds within a person's heart the ideal structure which may be built with good deeds. If we truly love, we become a strength for the weaknesses and errors of those who may not be as strong and fortunate as ourselves. In this way we may follow in the footsteps of the Savior, in service to our fellowmen, possessing something which will bring him greater joy and contentment, and make his life more serviceable to others than any worldly attainment could possibly bring.
Love without sacrifice is like faith without works. It is dead.
—Wayne C. Player, Zion's Builder, Independence, Mo., August 1964.
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