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  • Writer's pictureDon Walker

The Love of God and My Neighbor

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Gal. 5:14)

Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the two great commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22: 37-40, can be summed in one – “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What does it mean to “love your neighbor” in the way Jesus commanded us? What does genuine love look like? First of all, I cannot show true love to my neighbor without first loving God. For this reason, the unregenerate are unable to truly love their neighbor, because they do not love God. Paul says that it is possible to give all one has to the poor and even sacrifice his life, but have not love.

How do we know that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? John says, “By this we know we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (I John 5:2). In order to love my brother, I must obey the commandments of God, as opposed to obeying my own ideas, as to what determines love.

Love compels me to turn my brothers away from error, when I see them wandering away from the truth (Matt. 18:15; James 5:19). Likewise, I must not reject my brother’s love when correction comes my way. Of course most of us have heard that it is “unloving” to correct, and it certainly is not loving to point out error in practice or theology. The noted Bible scholar, A.W. Pink made this observation: “Brotherly love is a holy thing, and not a fleshly sentiment or a loose indifference as to the path we are treading. The exercise of love is to be in strict conformity to the revealed will of God.” To love my brother is to have his highest good at heart; to encourage him in the path of righteousness and bring him into remembrance of God’s Word.

In regards to children, parents are not to withhold discipline. Proverbs states, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24). The worldly concept of “love” rebels against this idea of discipline and protests that this is not love, but “child abuse.” Yet, God’s wisdom has revealed to our deceitful hearts the true path of love. God says, “Punish him with the rod, and save his soul from hell” (Prov. 23:14).

Our modern concept of “love” involves simply accepting people and whatever “lifestyle” i.e. sins; they choose. To say, that certain behavior is wrong, is viewed as “judgmental” and “unloving.” We are told “to make people feel good about themselves,” lest we damage their “self esteem.” Unfortunately, such sentiment is far too common among believers. True love, on the other hand, is not concerned with gratifying his brother, but reminds him, with patience and kindness, of his God’s holy requirement.

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