Love for Neighbor
Open Your Bible
Leviticus 18:1-30, Leviticus 19:1-37, Psalm 133:1-2, Galatians 5:13-16
This year my two oldest kids have become the best of friends and also the worst of enemies. The way they provoke one another exhausts a mother and necessitates the response: “you are a team, and you need to make this right because a team is at its best when it is operating together.” I wish I could tell you that my kids immediately respond in kindness. Instead, it often takes prompting and tears until they have resolved their conflict and decided they are buds again.
When it comes to making things right with our community, we too need external prompting—from the Holy Spirit. It isn’t as simple as it sounds to love your neighbor when we are prone to looking out for “me, myself and I.” In Leviticus 19, God offers a plan for a redemptive community that is unlike the world’s culture. In the world, people abuse and cheat to get ahead. They lie and steal to look better than their neighbor. They harbor revenge and let little issues spin into lifetime rifts. The world is fickle with its love and glorifies one’s success at the expense of another—if something or someone stands in your way, you have the right to take advantage of it.
The family of God can often feel not so different from the world’s relational drama. Paul warns the church of what will happen if they treat one another like the world treats one another: “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15). The devil prowls around like a lion looking to cause division in the church, your communities, and your households. But God says, “How delightfully good when brothers live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1).
God doesn’t see people or communities as expendable commodities. He sees them as image-bearers (Genesis 1:26), beloved, cherished members of His family. So, God calls His people to fulfill the laws of holiness by “[loving] your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
God’s community is different; it is set apart from the world to be an example of His holy communion. Because we are a team in the family of God, we can count the cost of relationships, as Christ counted the cost for us and lay down our lives for one another. In Christ’s loving-kindness, we can find the courage to fight for unity and wrestle with forgiveness even when it feels impossible.
When we find it impossible to work out our differences, I know Jesus makes it possible. Yes, there is work to be done when we would rather retaliate than restore relationships, but God is doing a good work in each of us. Moving us towards respectful care for one another—a holy unity.