wholeheartedly ... give thanks and praise then you will discover the fullness of
your life." David Steindl-Rast.
One day my mother helped throw her littlest brother out of our haymow.
The haymow (where we stored the winters hay high up under our
barns roof) was one of the five farm kids favorite play places.
The farm cats loved the haymow too. There they could run, jump, and
chase each other to their hearts content. That day one of the friskiest felines
misjudged the edge and fell out. The youngsters all watched, fascinated, as it
somersaulted, twisted, turned, and finally landed on its feet, unhurt, on the wooden
"driveway" a story-and-a-half below.
"Did you see that!?" the kids asked. Their next question was
perfectly logical (well, almost): "Do you suppose a person could land on his feet
Those budding test engineers could only think of one way to find out.
The other four (including my mother) grabbed their youngest brothers arms and legs,
dragged him kicking and and screaming to the edge, threw him out, and watched to see what
The results? First, Gilbert didnt land on his feet.
(Amazingly, he didnt break any bones either.) Second, it was about two weeks before
any of the other four children could sit down again!
What does that have to do with loving our neighbors? Its simple.
Real life can throw any of us "out of the haymow" at any time. Sickness. Layoff.
Divorce. Accidents. Crimes. Natural disasters. Those and many other events may make
"safe landings" impossible. And then the Bible teaches we are to be there to
pick each other up, help mend any broken bones, and get each other back on our feet,
Why should we love our neighbors?
If two of your children were twins, would you give one most of your
attention and ignore the other? Serve the first a heaping plate at mealtime and give the
second a few leftovers? Clothe one well and dress the other in hand-me-downs?
Of course not! Youd treat them both alike, wouldnt you?
Which Biblical twins stand out most prominently? My vote goes to the twin commandments
to love God and love our neighbors.
The Bible emphasizes how nearly identical those twins are. So shouldnt we treat
them exactly that way? Shouldnt we give the same attention to studying both?
Teaching both? Living both?
Certainly, that would please God.
Perhaps your church does. I hope so!
I loved the churches Ive attended. They were warm; wonderful;
"alive." Worship was beautiful, inspiring, uplifting. We felt God love us and
learned to love him. We saw and experienced genuine miracles.
We loved that first "twin" wholeheartedly. That was good. But
what did we miss? With a few beautiful exceptions (some of which will appear in this
book), we paid very little attention to the second.
Why? Speaking for myself, I knew that we should love our
neighbors. But I thought that just meant being nice to people who lived near me. I heard
many rich sermons on loving God. But I dont remember a single one, ever, that
explained who our neighbors were or how God wanted us to love them.
I wasnt alone. Rick Warren, pastor of Californias
Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose Driven Life," asked
"How did I miss that? I went to Bible college, two seminaries, and I got a doctorate.
How did I miss Gods compassion for the poor?" (Timothy C. Morgan, "Purpose
Driven in Rwanda," Christianity Today, October 2005, quoted in "Make Poverty
Personal" by Ash Barker, Baker Books, 2009.)
Like Warren, I never realized that the Bible talks more about the poor
including immigrants, orphans, and widows - than any other "neighbors."
Nor did I realize how many kinds of "neighbors" existed. I had no idea how God
expected us to love them. I didnt know the rich blessings promised for obeying, nor
the curses for failing!
Were others like me?
- When a national Christian conference asked attendees about their priorities, not one
answer mentioned any Biblical part of "loving our neighbors!" Not
- In the eight years I managed a Christian college library I never saw one book on
it. (Thats changed. Now, thank God, the number is growing rapidly.)
- Many churches dont even mention it in their belief statements or lists of
Have vital parts of "loving our neighbors" become
"forgotten commandments?" Is Richard Stearns of World Vision right when he calls
them "The Hole in our Gospel?" Just possibly, yes.
If we honestly want to follow God, we need to change that.
Finally God got my attention, by "clubbing me over the head"
more times than I want to count. (I seem to need that a lot.) I began "digging"
to see what the Bible really said. That search changed my life. There were
Scriptures I never knew existed. Some I was living, and some I wasnt. Demanding
faith challenges. Calls to selflessness and action.
This book tells what I found. It includes over 3,600 Scriptures, and
many of my own familys experiences. I hope those experiences will show that to
genuinely love our neighbors we must convert our faith into real-life actions. And
that as we do so, God may give us marvelous, unforeseen, deeply moving experiences.
Those experiences take us past theory and theology, to reality.
Whats the best way to learn about love? To read a book? Or to
fall in love? And which has greater impact? Watching a manned space launch on TV? Or
personally seeing the astronauts fiery, thunderous ascent into the heavens?
Experiences strengthen our faith. One pastor told us: "the man who
has an experience is never at the mercy of the man who has a theory."
The early Israelites followed God as long as their leaders experienced
"Israel obeyed the Lord throughout the lifetimes of Joshua and
the other old men who had personally witnessed the amazing deeds the Lord had done for
Israel" (Josh. 24:31; Judg. 2:7-9; also Deut. 4:9, Ps. 22:30-31).
How can we experience loving both God and our
neighbors? Lets find out.
What are the Bibles two most important commandments?
Jesus answer appears in three Gospels.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and
all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important:
Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands
of the prophets are based on these two commandments" (from Matt 22:36-40, NLT; also
read Matt. 19:18-19; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10: 25-37).
In the fourth Gospel, Jesus raises the standard! He says,
"I demand that you love each other as much as I love you" (John 15:12;
Thats a lot of love!
Where does "Loving God" first appear? In Deut.
6:4-5: "O Israel, listen: Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone. You must love him with
all your heart, soul, and might."
What about "Loving neighbors?" Thats from Lev.
19:18: "Love your neighbor as yourself, for I am Jehovah." Later in that
chapter, Moses tells Israel to love one kind of "neighbor" (foreigners) "as
yourself" (v. 33-34).
Also read: Deut. 10:12-13; 10:18-19; 30:6; Joel 2:12-13.
Did you notice? Neither of these passages talks about what
were to believe! They both talk about what we should do!
Even in a gospel of faith, "doing" is crucial).
"Remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. So dont fool
yourselves" (James 1:22; also see Hos. 10:12; James 2:20; John 14:15-16; 14:23-24,
So what are we to do?
Love God! (And obey him; see John 14: 15, 21, 23, 24.)
Love our neighbors! (And help them; see James 2:12-17.)
Those are simple, arent they? Itd be easy to assume all Christians agree.
But some dont. Inexplicably, and I believe unintentionally, many church leaders
support the views of conservative politicians who follow the philosophies of prominent
atheist Ayn Rand, author of "Atlas Shrugged." The late Chuck Colson
cautioned that her followers "are undermining the gospel."
Rands journal said "I want to be known as the greatest enemy of
religion." She taught "There is no such thing as the "common good;"
"I am not my brothers keeper;" "charity for those in need is not an
ethical obligation." (In other words, "love yourself, not your neighbor.")
Rand "ennobled selfishness, enshrined materialism." (Heidi Unruh, Evangelicals
for Social Action, their e-Newsletter, 8/30/2011).
Whats our choice? To love God and our neighbors? Or follow those who teach the
fruits of Rands atheism? Wouldnt Jesus say that, however we got ourselves into
this position, we must get out - and follow him?
"What is really needed to build the church is love" (1
Whats love like?
Is there any better answer than Pauls?
"Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never
boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It
is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when
others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins
out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will
always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in
defending him" (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
Did you notice some words Paul didnt include? For
instance, "approve. And "agree." Did Teen Challenge founder David Wilkerson
approve of the drugs, sex, and violence-filled lifestyles of the gang kids God called him
to help? Did he agree with it? Not at all! But he loved those youths deeply, and saw many
of their lives changed. God calls us to love our neighbors whether or not we agree
with them or approve of all they do.
Nor did Paul mention "zeal." Yes, if we love God
wholeheartedly, well have zeal. But our zeal must stay centered in love, both
for God and for our neighbors. Ive met zealous, intellectually committed ministers
and laymen who showed no love. And when love is absent, we quickly get into
trouble, right up to the point of fighting wars in the name of our religion.
What kind of love should we give God and our neighbors? The Greeks called it
"agape" (ah-GAH-pay), a selfless, freely-giving love. Greg Boyd calls it
"not a feeling one has ... rather a commitment one makes, a stance one takes toward
another, and an activity one does ... a kind of love you can have ... when the other is
your enemy ... the kind of love God had for us while we were yet sinners and the kind of
love we are commanded to have toward all others. It is the kind of love God was aiming at
in creating the world." (Boyd, "Repenting of Religion; Turning from
Judgment to the Love of God." Baker, 2004, p. 24-25.)
"Agape" is a powerful love. It works when others fall short. Two of my
children have been molested - one by a homosexual, one by a heterosexual. And my closest
cousin was murdered by a paroled convict. Do you think I can "feel" ordinary
love for those men? No! Not at all! The only way I can obey the Bibles command to
"love my enemies" is through "agape." With it, I can do acts of
kindness and love; even to the "unlovable."
Does "loving our neighbors" mean to "feel" love or
to "do" love?
We can feel love for our neighbors. "Gladly letting God
have his way with you ... will make possible ... for you to enjoy other people and to like
them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply" (2 Pet. 1:6-7).
Yet the "agape" love of Scripture teaches us to act,
whether we "feel" or not. Were to be supportive, to help; give
time, food, money, clothing, and housing; be kind; visit, comfort, and encourage -
whatever wed do if we were ministering to Jesus.
"But if someone ... has money enough to live well, and
sees a brother in need, and wont help him - how can Gods love be within him?
Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show
it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side
(1 John 3:17-19).
In agape, feeling and action unite. James and John say we must act to show our
love (for instance, see John 14:15; 14:21; 14:23-24; 15:9-14; James 1:22; 2:14-17; and
2:20). Paul stresses that our acts must be motivated by love. "If I gave
everything I have to poor people ... but didnt love others, it would be of no value
whatsoever" (1 Cor. 13:3).
Biblical love means learning the real needs of our real neighbors.
For Christians, it means asking "If that was Jesus, how would I help him?" It
makes us reprioritize our actions, time, and money; and give of ourselves in a consistent,
mature way. That loving starts in our families. It reaches out to our community, nation,
Are loving God and loving our neighbors linked?
"Then I, the King, shall say ... Come, blessed of
my Father ... For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was
a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in
prison, and you visited me.
"Then these righteous ones will reply, Sir, when did we ever
see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger and
help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit
"And I, the King, will tell them, When you did it to
these my brothers you were doing it to me! ... When you refused to help the
least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me (Matt. 25:34-45; also read
1 John 4:7-12; 4:20-21).
Do we love and help our families? The poor? Widows? Orphans?
Immigrants? Government officials? Sick? Handicapped? Brokenhearted? Elderly? Members of
other churches? Prisoners? Enemies? Were loving Jesus (John 14:21).
"We cannot love God unless we love each other ... We have all known loneliness,
and we have learned that the only solution is love. It is not love in the abstract that
counts. Men have loved a cause ... but not ... the brothers right next to us." (Doris
Day, in ePistle, e-newsletter of the Evangelicals for Social Action, 1/22/2008.)
Should we love the poor in India? The homeless in Haiti? The man whos lost his
job and faces eviction? The lady whos blind and homebound? The sick child whose
single mother cant earn enough to care for her?
Jesus told us that to love God we must love, and help, all of these.
If we dont love both God and our neighbors, do we really
love either one?
How can we grow to love God?
We each have unique experiences.
Mine? I grew up with grandparents who never went to church, and until
my teens I rarely did either. I first heard of religion when a cousin walked into my
upstairs bedroom and asked whether I was Catholic or Presbyterian. Id never heard of
either one, but didnt think my five-year-old tongue could master the
impossible-sounding word "Presbyterian," so I said "Catholic."
I did attend "released-time religious education," but mostly
to help other boys make up our own words to the hymns.
Another cousin, Kermit, tried to touch the few kids in our isolated
north woods neighborhood. He built a small log-cabin Sunday School, by hand, on a
nearby hill. I enjoyed it. But, despite his good efforts, by my early teens Id beome
a full-fledged atheist.
Then our school bus routes changed, and a friend on the new bus began
nagging me to go to church with him.
I resisted. The idea turned me off. But Jack didnt quit. Finally,
as much to get him off my back as anything, I went.
There I met joyful people! People filled with love! They told of
genuine miracles that had happened to them. Theyd had real experiences with a
My atheism couldnt survive those joy-filled people. There I experienced
the "new birth."
But birth was only the beginning! Growing to know and love
God? That took time! Lots of it!
My wife Yvonne attended an excellent church with a caring minister, yet
never personally met God.
By age 27 her lungs were deteriorating badly. Her doctor gave her less
than three years to live unless she moved to a warm climate.
Her response? She prayed for Gods help and pledged her life to
him in return.
Yvonne kept that promise. After moving, she became active in a church
young adult group in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Id moved there a month earlier. We met
the following spring, and were married the same summer.
But her life was still a mix of old and new. For instance, she
practiced astrology enthusiastically.
Then we moved to San Diego. Yvonne was pregnant. Both sons from my
first marriage were with us: one willingly, the other not. Turmoil caused Yvonnes
labor pains to start several months early. At her wits end, she threw herself on the
altar at our church and cried "God, help!"
And God answered. He filled her with his Holy Spirit. And, for
counselling on how to help my older son, our pastor referred us to a gentle, grandmotherly
lady (Ruth) who lived both the "fruit" and the "gifts" of the Holy
Ruth was sick. She couldnt see us for a week. But then she
shocked us. She told us that, while shed prayed for us, Jesus had appeared to her in
person and told her in detail what to tell us! She proved it by describing everything
that had happened in our home that last week, and told me the painful steps I had to take
to prevent a miscarriage (chapter 4).
Astrology? Yvonne never mentioned it again. Shed seen something better!
She rapidly grew to know and love God. Though Id been a Christian longer, she soon
How can we learn to love God?
First, want to love him.
Be honest. Be open. Admit "where you are."
How do you and your children love each other? Spending time together?
Hugging? Talking? Asking questions? Do the same kinds of things with God! Do them daily!
How would you feel if your children constantly watched TV, but only talked with you once a
Pray daily. Use your own words, but remember the pattern of the Lords Prayer (Matt.
6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). Praise. Give thanks. Talk things over. Express love as honestly
as you can. Ask "what do you want me to do today?" Pray for forgiveness.
End with praise.
Learn about God. Read his "letters and diaries," the Bible.
(Note Deut. 17:19-20.) Try using a good easy-to-understand modern-language version (there
Finally, obey him. Love and obedience go together.
"The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my
father will love him; and I will too" (John 14:21; 14:15; also see Isa.
29:13-14, 1 Chron 22:19).
As we reach out to him, he touches our spirits. Our love for him grows and our lives
change. "It is not our love for God but his love for us" (1 John 4:10).
"So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first" (1 John
Also read: John 14:23-24; 15:10; 1 John 2:3-6; 3:21-24; 4:16-18.
Is loving our neighbors just a New Testament teaching?
No. The 3,600 verses in this study come from every book in
the Bible (not counting the Apocrypha). Over 2,400 are from the Old Testament,
which Christians, Jews, and Muslims all embace. That means two-thirds of these verses come
from all three heritages. Is God is calling all of us to love all of our
But the New Testament does emphasize love heavily. "Dont
just pretend that you love others: really love them ... Love each other with brotherly
affection and take delight in honoring each other" (Rom. 12:9-10).
"Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others
never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of
Gods laws, fulfilling all his requirements" (Rom. 13:8).
Also read: Matt. 7:12; John 15:13-18; Rom. 13:9-10; 1 Cor.
13:1-33; 14:1, 16:14, Eph. 1:15-16; 5:2; Phil. 1:8-11; 2:2-4; Col. 2:2; 1 Thess. 5:13; 1
Tim. 1:5; 1 John 2:7-11; 3:10-11; 3:23; 2 John v. 5-6.
What are some ways the Bible teaches us to "do" love?
Kindness: "your kindness has so often refreshed the
hearts of Gods people" (Philemon v. 7); also read Job 6:14; Ps. 37:3; Prov.
3:3; Prov. 11:17; Prov. 31:26; Isa. 28:12; 1 Cor. 16:14-18; Col. 1:10; Jude 1:2).
Forgiveness: "Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold
grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others" (Col. 3:13; also
Prov. 17:9; 2 Cor. 2:10-11, and more).
Patience: "Be patient with each other, making
allowance for each others faults because of your love" (Eph. 4:2; also 1 Cor.
13:4; 2 Thess. 1:3-6).
Courtesy: "They must not speak evil of anyone, nor quarrel, but be
gentle and truly courteous to all" (Titus 3:2. Another example: Phil. 4:5).
Mercy: "You should practice tenderhearted mercy and
kindness to others" (Col. 3:12; also Ps. 18:25; Prov. 27:10; Matt. 9:11-13;
Helping: "In response to all he has done for us, let
us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good" (Heb.
10:24; also Deut. 22:1-4; Job 22:29-30; Prov. 12:12; 17:17; Isa. 58:4-12; Rom. 12:13;
16:1-2; 16:6; 2 Cor. 8:13-15; Gal. 6:2-3; 1 Pet. 4:8-11; 3 John v. 5-8).
Providing justice: "I want to see a mighty flood of
justice" (Amos 5:24; also note Ps. 106:3; Prov. 21:3; Isa. 5:7; 56:1; 59:16; Jer.
9:23-24; 22:3-5; Ezek. 45:9-10; Hos. 12:6; Amos 5:15; Mic. 6:8).
Doing good: "You yourself must be an example to them of
good deeds of every kind" (Titus 2:7; see also Ps. 37:18; Luke 6:31; Gal. 6:7-10;
Eph. 5:15-16; 1 Thess. 1:2-3; 2 Thess 3:13; Titus 2:14; 3:8; James 3:13; Rev. 14:13).
Giving: "They should ... give happily to those in
need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them" (1 Tim.
6:18-19; also read Josh. 22:7-8; Prov. 21:25-26; Isa. 32:5-8; Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:17-21;
Luke 6:36-38; 11:41; 1 Cor 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:1-2; 9:6-15; Eph. 4:28.)
For still more examples of loving, see: 1 Sam. 20:16-17;
Job 30:25; Prov. 3:29-30; Luke 9:47-48; John 15:9-13; 1 Cor. 13:1-3; Phil.
2:20; Col. 1:4; 1:8; 3:14; 1 Thess. 2:7-8; 3:12-13; 4:9-10; Philemon v. 20; Heb. 13:1-3;
James 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 3:8; 5:14 (NIV); 1 John 5:1-4.
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man
can sincerely try to help another without helping himself" Ralph Waldo Emerson
Shouldnt we just help people spiritually?
"I saw a little girl who couldnt go to school because she
didnt have a pair of shoes. I saw an ... old woman dying of cancer in a hovel
overrun by rats. I saw a boy who had lost his eyesight and both legs in war ... God, my
heart and soul are sick. All I can say is help them, help them." (Marjorie Holmes, "Ive
Got to Talk to Somebody, God," Bantam Books, c1969, pp. 103-104.)
In 2003 two young Christian college students, Mike Yankoski and
Sam Purvis, decided to learn about homelessness first hand by living on the streets of six
major American cities. One Sunday morning, hungry, Sam asked a pastor for food. The
minister replied, "Thats not what we do here. Were here to worship. We
cant confuse our purpose." (Mike Yankoski, "Under the Overpass,"
Multnomah Publishers, 2005, p. 148.)
Did Jesus teach worship? Certainly. But didnt he also tell us to feed,
clothe, and house the needy?
Had that pastor let "love your neighbors" become a
Jesus taught "man shall not live by bread alone" (Matt.
4:4, KJV). Yet feeding the hungry was a vital part of early Christian ministry.
"Our people must learn to help all who need their assistance, that
their lives will be fruitful" (Titus 3:14).
"Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will fatten
your purses in heaven! . . Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will
also be" (Luke 12:33-34).
"Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever
you can." John Wesley.
More Scriptures: Ps. 112:1; 112:4-5; 112:9, Eccl. 11:1-2; Ezek. 18:5;
18:7-17; Matt. 19:21; Mark 3:4-5; Luke 12:22-34; 2 Cor. 8;1-15; 2 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim.
6:17-19; Heb. 13:16; James 2:8-9; 2:14-17, 1 John 3:17-19. .
Does the Bible mean "love and help our neighbors" literally?
Ive heard ministers preach that Jesus was speaking spiritually,
not literally, when he said "as you have done it to these my brothers, you have done
it to me."
Yes, some Scriptures are meant to be taken spiritually.
"Say there! Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink even if
you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine and milk its all free! Why
spend your money on food that doesnt give you strength? Why pay for groceries that
do you no good? Listen and Ill tell you where to get good food that fattens up the
soul!" (Isa. 55:1-2.)
But I see no hint that thats true of the Bibles
teachings about loving and helping each other.
And the same preachers who "spiritualized" verses
about helping the needy criticized others for "spiritualizing" descriptions of
miracles. Was that consistent?
Since my wife claims Im an intellectual, you might expect me to
agree that Bible stories of miracles are "spiritualized."
But I cant. Ive seen friends healed of cancer; breast
lumps, humped backs and spinal curvature. A lady with an incurable case of hepatitis C
asked for prayer at our church. Her next blood test showed no trace of it!
A head injury caused half of a good friends brain to atrophy.
Inoperable gangrene set in, almost touching the medulla. He was sent home to die. A year
later he walked back into the same doctors office, completely normal, after a
healing that began in a church song service!
Friends in Gainesville, Georgia showed us "before" and
"after" pictures of one of their foster babies whod been born blind, with
no optic nerves, and with only half of his brain. In the first snap, his face was blank,
mask-like. The second captured him radiantly normal a genuine Kodak moment!
Hed been fully healed after consistent prayer at their small country church. Tests
by his Atlanta doctors confirmed it.
Can healings be humorous? One of my Orlando co-workers told me
hed suffered severe lung disease when younger. Hed also been a convinced
atheist. Then his Christian girlfriend "dragged" him to her church.
The pastors sermon mentioned healing. Dons girl
looked at him and raised her eyebrows. He scoffed but too strongly! She elbowed him
sharply in the ribs and exclaimed loudly "For heavens sakes, Don, get up
Don didnt believe in God, so he couldnt accept divine
healing. But now several thousand pairs of eyes were locked directly on him. The minister
asked "Young man, are you ready to receive your healing?" Wondering how to get
out of this, he finally stammered "I guess so."
Just that suddenly, Dons lungs felt like new!
But his pride wouldnt admit God might have healed him! He decided
to make himself sick to prove it hadnt happened. He got on his motorcycle, unzipped
his jacket to let the chilly winter air hit his chest full force, opened the throttle, and
sped 1,700 miles to Washington, DC and back.
It didnt work! His lungs stayed well! Then he accepted
God. When I knew him he was a radiant Christian.
Has everyone Ive known been healed? No. I wish they had. Yet
Ive seen (and personally experienced) more than enough miracles to make me
take the Bibles accounts seriously.
In the same way, if Id never seen first-hand the importance of
ministering to material needs, perhaps I, too, could "spiritualize" those
passages. But my family spent six years living in a tent trailer, homeless, despite
working for five of those years. Our personal experiences then, and since, emphatically
tell me that Scripture means those passages literally.
Caring more about others than ourselves (as in Luke
12:32-34) may not follow the laws of logic, but it does obey the laws of
love. Those laws say, "I trust God to provide for me because he loves me. And I will
help my "neighbors" who are in need because I love them." That equation is
in divine, not human, balance.
Should we love God (and our neighbors) wholeheartedly? Or
Why did Jesus tell us to love God "with all your heart and soul
and strength and mind?" Isnt it better to love moderately?
Can I ask you this? Have you ever watched your favorite sports team
play "moderately" hard? Were you proud of them? Did they win? Perennial
powerhouse UCLA made that mistake against tiny Wyoming in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl football
game. In sharp contrast, Wyoming played wholeheartedly, "fought every inch," and
No man is more famed for producing champions than legendary Green Bay
Packers coach Vince Lombardi. When asked his formula for success, Lombardi once replied,
"Youve got to love each other ... Each player has to ... play
from the soles of his feet right up to his head ... If youre lucky enough to find a
guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, hes never going to come off the field
second." ("Iacocca, an Autobiography;" Bantam
Books, 1984, pages 60-61.)
Could Jesus have urged us to love God "with all our heart and soul
and strength and mind," and our neighbors as ourselves, because he wanted us to
How can we sum up "loving our neighbors?"
- Loving our neighbors means "doing."
- Loving our neighbors means helping people everywhere in practical ways.
- Loving our neighbors means practising courtesy, forgiveness, mercy, and giving.
- Loving our neighbors means ministering to both spiritual and material needs.
- Loving our neighbors begins in our families, then reaches out to touch our community,
state, nation, and world.
- Loving our neighbors means ministering to others in the same ways wed minister to
"I have found that if you love life, life will love you
back." Arthur Rubenstein, quoting Cajun folk saying.