If you love your neighbor as if
you were loving yourself you will not want to harm or cheat him, or kill him or steal from him. And you won’t sin with his wife or want what is his, or do anything else the Ten Commandments say is wrong. All ten are wrapped up in this one, to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love does no wrong to anyone. That’s why it fully satisfies all of God’s requirements. It is the only law you need. Romans 13:9-10
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.” So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. Matthew 18:21-35
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
We continue looking at the role of forgiveness in relationships. The following has already been noted but it is essential that we keep it in the forefront of our thinking: the primary source of tension in relationships comes from the fact that people at their core are selfish. We want what we want and we want others to do what we want. The problem of tensions in relationships because of selfishness, runs through all the settings we are looking at this week. Forgiveness is the key to overcoming selfishness in relationships and relieving these tensions. The setting for relationships we are looking at today is the neighborhood. The Romans 13 passage above helps us with this area of relationships and of course the highlighted portion of the story of Jesus from Luke 18 above helps us with forgiveness.
In the commandments of God in Scripture, the command to “love your neighbor” is a bit more encompassing than those who live in your neighborhood. But for our purposes today we are going to consider the command to “love your neighbor” just in terms of those that live in close proximity and rub shoulders with us somewhat regularly. Our Romans 13 passage is one of several places the command to “love your neighbor” occurs, but this one expands the implications of the command in ways that help us understand it more fully.
We need to note that “loving your neighbor” as if
you were loving yourself, is not talking about self-love. It is just saying that you should love your neighbor the way you would want to be loved by them. Our passage connects this command with some of the ten commandments and uses them to give us ways to love our neighbors. Go back and read over these commands in our passage and then read all of them in Exodus 20:1-17 in your Bible.
Now think about the various people who live nearby and take inventory with how you are doing at loving them in terms of the ten commandments. Our passage boils it all down to this: “Love does no wrong to anyone.” Now think about your neighbors just in regard to this one sentence. What changes will you need to make going forward so that you are living selflessly and not selfishly before your neighbors? You really can do your part toward promoting good relationships in your neighborhood. Imagine if everyone was doing their part. Of course, forgiveness is essential for healthy relationships among neighbors.
Go back and read Matthew 18 down through the end of today’s highlighted portion. Don’t you think most of us would have to admit that sometimes we are more like the king and sometimes we are more like the slave when it comes to how we treat our neighbors. Recall for yourself examples from life in your neighborhood of both kinds of treatment that went out from you to your neighbors and came to you from them. Things go much better with a “forgiveness” approach, don’t they? If we commit ourselves to the “Love does no wrong to anyone” approach from Romans 13 and the “forgiveness” approach of Matthew 18, and we seek to live it out through the indwelling presence and power of Jesus Christ, we will be exceptional neighbors.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, I admit it’s not easy to really look at myself and see how I am actually doing with loving my neighbors. I confess that I fall short and ask for your forgiveness. Help me to forgive my neighbors for past wrongs and change my heart and behavior so that “no wrong” comes from me to them. May they truly see my love and your love and be blessed. Amen!
Posted on Wed, March 13, 2019
by Ken Hart