Exploring the Biblical meaning of 'Loving Our Neighbors’

Chapter 2

Is Loving Our Neighbors Important?

If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap.

If you want happiness for a day—go fishing.

If you want happiness for a month—get married.

If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune.

If you want happiness for a lifetime—help others.

-Chinese proverb.


I’d been one of 17,000 employees at a Florida defense plant. Then government cutbacks began triggering steady layoffs. I looked for other work, unsuccessfully. Finally, as our workforce neared 5,000 in 1993, my own layoff notice came.

We’d had layoff insurance on our home mortgage, but the company had dropped all its Florida policies that summer. The replacement policy wouldn’t take effect for six weeks. No job? No layoff insurance? No home!

Ten days before that "pink slip," my wife was diagnosed with spinal arthritis. Staying in Florida’s humidity would mean life in a wheelchair. So we focused my job search on the drier climate she needed. The Florida Job Service’s computers told us to start near Sacramento, California. We did, living in a small tent trailer in a Sierra Nevada foothill campground.

But I found no work there, and Yvonne’s back still locked up, even in that lower humidity. So we moved south to check the Mojave Desert’s defense complexes. We stayed in a 5,000-foot-high campground near Tehachapi through the summer’s heat. In the fall, we moved down to Barstow.

We ended up living in the pop-up camper for almost six years. It sheltered us in temperatures as low as 9 above zero and as high as 118 (with no a/c)!

After 15 months, we got work as traveling vendors with a major discount chain. We worked in a different city every week, anywhere from California to South Dakota. At the start, it only paid half our bills. But it was work. We did it.

Moving every week wasn’t easy. We home-schooled the kids, with much-appreciated help from the public school systems in Barstow and La Quinta. We rented a mailbox and had letters forwarded. We needed a cell-phone, but at that time could only get one if we had a home phone - and we were homeless! (Church friends let us use their address and phone number to sign up.)

We applied for welfare and food stamps, but were denied. We "had too many resources" (the car and trailer) and were "trying too hard" (attempting to sell crafts). Welfare told us that if we’d sell our car and tent trailer, and move onto the street with our kids, they’d help us. We wouldn’t do that, even before another welfare worker warned us that, if we did, our children would be taken away!

We asked one lady how people got public help when they honestly needed it. She said, "You lie!" We wouldn’t. And we got no aid.

During those six years we exhausted our assets. We bought time by paying for rent and groceries with credit cards. We didn’t see doctors unless an illness might be life-threatening. We fought a seven-year-long battle against bankruptcy, but finally lost it. We faced repeated impossible-looking situations.

But we chose to keep our outlook positive. We emphasized the new places we saw, the new things we did, the new people we met. We usually had to work on Sunday, so we kept our faith fresh with regular home devotions. We prayed frankly, honestly, and strongly. We learned that, in the hardest circumstances, God wants us to rejoice, not just endure.

That turned a very difficult time into an adventure filled with warm memories. And God faithfully brought us through it all.


By 1999, we were exhausted. We knew we had to stop, and that we needed a "normal" home. For over six months, we prayed God would show us where that should be.

God used our faithful Nissan to make the decision for us. Its four cylinders, which had towed heavy trailers over Western mountain passes for 215,000 miles, finally said "no more" on Wyoming’s historic South Pass. We settled nearby. It was the best place we’d found yet for Yvonne’s arthritis. And there, step by step, with God’s help, we started rebuilding our lives.

Did we learn how important "loving and helping your neighbors" is? Yes!

When our neighbors pass through "dark and cloudy days" (Exek. 34:12), do we know? Do we keep in touch? Do we love and help these neighbors as if they were Jesus?


Why should we love and help our neighbors?

God gives many reasons.

We love our neighbors because of who God is:

"Leave [some of your wheat and grapes] for the poor and for those traveling through, for I am Jehovah your God" (Lev. 19:10).

"You shall give due honor and respect to the elderly ... I am Jehovah (Lev. 19:32).

More Scriptures: Lev. 19:12; 19:14; 19:18; 19:34; 19:37; 23:22; Ps. 68:4-6.


We love our neighbors because God has helped us.

"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).

"It is God himself who ... has given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others" (Eph. 2:10).

More Scriptures: Lev. 19:36; 25:35-38; 25:42; Rom. 15:27; 2 Cor. 8:7-9; Eph. 4:32; 5:2; James 2:13; 1 John 4:11-12.


We love our neighbors because we love God:

"If we love God, we will do whatever he tells us to. And he has told us from the very first to love each other" (2 John v. 6).

"To help the poor is to honor God" (Prov. 14:31).

More Scriptures: Lev. 25:17; 25:36; 25:43; Luke 3:10-12; 6:35; 11:42; John 13:34-35; Rom. 13:8; 2 Cor. 8:5; Phil.1:11; 1 Thess. 3:12-13; Heb. 13:16; 2 Pet. 1:7-8; 1 John 2:8-10; 3:17-19; 4:7.


We love our neighbors because we understand.

"Don’t forget about those in jail ... share the sorrow of those being mistreated, for you know what they are going through" (Heb. 13:3).

"You too must love foreigners, for you ... were foreigners in the land of Egypt" (Deut 10:19).

More Scriptures: Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:34; Deut. 16:12; 24:18; 24:22; 2 Cor. 1:4.


We love our neighbors because it benefits us.

"For if you give, you will get. Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure ... Whatever measure you use to give ... will be used to measure what is given back to you" (Luke 6:38).

"Day by day the Lord observes the good deeds done by godly men, and gives them eternal rewards" (Ps. 37:18).

More Scriptures: Deut. 16:20; 24:19; Job 29:13; Prov. 11:24-25; 19:17; 25:21-22; 27:10; 31:31; Eccl. 11:1-2; Jer. 22:15-16; Luke 14:14; 2 Cor. 8:14; 9:6-14; Gal. 6:9; Eph. 4:16; Titus 3:14; Heb. 6:11.


We love our neighbors for righteousness’ sake.

"If the man is poor and gives you his cloak ... take it back to him at sundown ... and the Lord your God will count it as righteousness for you" Deut. 24:13).

"Every third year ... give all your tithes to the Levites, migrants, orphans, and widows, so that they will be well fed ... he will make you greater than any other nation ... To attain this honor and renown you must be a holy people to the Lord your God, as he requires" (Deut. 26:12; 26:19; also Deut 26:13-18).


We love our neighbors for surprising reasons!

We love because "the joy of the Lord is our strength!" (Neh. 8:10.)

And because "the Lord is coming soon!" (Phil. 4:5.)

Also read: Isa. 56:1; Jer. 7:3-7; 22:3-4; Luke 9:48; John 15:17-18; 2 Cor. 8:4-8; 9:7; Col. 3:14; Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:8; 3 John v. 8.


What blessings does God promise when we love our neighbors?

God promises life and health:

"Honor your father and mother, that you may have a long, good life" (Exod. 20:12).

"God blesses those who are kind to the poor ... He protects them and keeps them alive (Ps. 41:1-2.).

More Scriptures: Deut. 5:16; 25:13-15; Ps. 34:12-14; Prov. 11:17.


God promises spiritual blessings:

"Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" (Matt. 19:21).

"Love your enemies...then your reward from heaven will be very great" (Luke 6:35).

More Scriptures: Ps. 15:1-5; 37:18; Isa. 64:5; Ezek. 18:7-9; 18:17; Matt. 10:40-42; 25:34; Mark 10:21, 12:33-34, 14:14, 18:22, Luke 6: 36-38, 1 Tim. 6:19, 2 Tim. 1:18, Heb. 6:11, 2 Pet. 1:8, 1 John 2:8.


God promises happiness and rewards:

"Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor" (Prov. 22:9).

"And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you" (Matt 6:6).

More Scriptures: Ps. 41:1; 106:3; 146:5-9; Prov. 14:21; Matt. 10:42; Acts 10:35; 1 Pet. 3:9.


God promises good reputations:

"He gives generously to those in need ... He shall have influence and honor" (Ps 112:9).

"The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever" (2 Cor 9:9).

More Scriptures: Ps. 15:1-5; Prov.11:16; 11:26; 31:31; Mat. 23:11.


God promises to enrich us:

"It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself" (Prov. 11:24-25).

"For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full ...measure" (Luke 6:38).

More Scriptures: Deut. 14:29; Ps. 37:3; 37:26; 112:3; Isa. 1:19; 2 Cor. 9:6-8.


God promises mercy:

"Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy" (Matt. 5:7).

"You will know that there is someone who will lift you up again" (From Job 22:5-29).

More Scriptures: Ps. 37:19; Ps. 41:3; 112:4; Prov. 28:27; Eccl. 11:1-2; Isa. 33:16; Matt. 7:2; Luke 6:37; James 2:13.


God promises the nation blessings:

"That is why God blessed [King Josiah]. He saw to it that justice and help were given the poor and the needy and all went well for him" (Jer.22:15-16).

"O King ... stop sinning; do what you know is right; be merciful to the poor. Perhaps even yet God will spare you" (Dan. 4:27).

More Scriptures: Lev. 25:19; Deut.15:4-6; 26:12-15; Isa. 16:5; Jer.22:3-4.


God promises multiple blessings:

"The man who tries to be good, loving, and kind finds life, righteousness, and honor" (Prov. 21:21).

"But good men will be generous to others and will be blessed of God" (Isa 32:8).

More Scriptures: Ps. 41:1-3; Isa. 58:8-12; Gal. 6:9-10.


What does God say about people who don’t love their neighbors?

(a) "They mean well?"

(b) "Not a big deal?"

(c) "Those neighbors don’t deserve help anyway?"

Oh, oh! The answer to our little quiz is (d): "None of the above!"

What’s the answer? Here are actual words Scripture uses to describe people who don’t love and help their needy neighbors. These aren’t exceptions. They’re the rule!

"Very evil," "Enemies" (Neh. 5:9; Isa. 1:24).

"Wicked" (Job 24:20; Ps. 10:2; 10:15; 28:3-5; 146:9; Mal. 3:5).

"Rebels" (Ps. 68:6).

"Foolish," "Ignorant," "In darkness" (Ps. 82:5).

"Rebels," "Companions of thieves" (Isa. 1:23).

"Defiled my Name" (Jer. 34:16).

"Enemies of everything good" (Amos 5:12).

"Hypocrites," "Hearts are far away," "Their worship is worthless" (Matt. 15:7-9; Zech. 11:17).

"Cursed ones" (Matt. 25:41).

"Bunch of hypocrites!" "Speak very prettily about the Lord but they have no love for him at all." "Worship is a farce" (Mark 7:6-7).

"Fooling himself," "A nobody" (Gal. 6:3).

"No right to say he is a Christian," "Worse than the heathen" (1 Tim. 5:8).

"Blind indeed" (2 Pet. 1:9).

"Still in darkness" (1 John 2:9).

"Wandering in spiritual darkness," "Doesn’t know where he is going," "Blind" (1 John 2:11).

"Not in God’s family" (1 John 3:10).

"Headed for eternal death" (1 John 3:14).

"Doesn’t know God" (1 John 4:8).

Whew! God doesn’t pull any punches, does he? Does this suggest that, just possibly, we might need to repent a bit? Change our values? Our preaching? Our voting?

Which "neighbors" do these passages condemn us for neglecting? Parents. Children. Poor. Helpless. Widows. Orphans. Immigrants. Servants. Other Christians. Sick. Lame. Lonely. Dying. Hungry. Without clothing. Homeless. Prisoners. All our "brothers."

These Scriptures drive home the importance God places on helping our neighbors. They help us understand Josiah’s response when the priests read him a long-forgotten scroll of God’s law from the Temple, including teachings on loving God and our neighbors. Moses had instructed every new Israeli king to copy all God’s laws and read from them every day (Deut. 17:18-29). But that command had been forgotten. Now Josiah prayed, "What shall we do? For we have not been following the instructions of this book; you must be very angry with us." (2 Kings 22:8-13; 2 Chron 34:14-32).

Indeed, God is pleased when we simply begin loving him. But our faith isn’t complete until we begin to love and help our neighbors too.

Whether or not we think we deserve these names, they are the ones God uses! And they’re reinforced by the curses he pronounces on us.


What kinds of judgment does God promise if we fail to love our neighbors?

We’ll miss blessings.

"If you give little, you will get little" (2 Cor.9:6).

"For if you take interest from a brother ... the Lord your God won’t bless you" (Deut 23:20).


We’ll face loss.

"He has oppressed the poor and foreclosed their homes ... his wealth will disappear beneath the wrath of God" (Job 20:19-28).

"But the Lord Almighty has sworn your awful fate ... Many a beautiful home will lie deserted, their owners killed or gone" (Isa 5:9).

More Scriptures: Ex. 22:27; Job 19:26; 20:19-21; Prov. 11:24; 21:13; 22:16; 28:8; Isa. 5: 7-8; 5:10; Gal. 5:13-15.


We’ll be forgotten.

"Cut off his name from the memory of man. For he refused all kindness to others, and persecuted those in need, and hounded brokenhearted ones to death" (Ps. 109:15-16).

"Even the sinner’s own mother shall forget him ... No one will remember him any more (Job 24:20).


God calls us sinners.

"Never oppress a poor hired man ... he may cry out to the Lord against you and it would be counted as a sin against you" (Deut. 24:15).

"For he who dislikes his brother is wandering in spiritual darkness" (1 John 2:11).

More Scriptures: Deut. 15:9; Neh. 5:9; Ps. 146:9; Prov.14:21; 14:31; 17:5; 21:10; Lam. 3:36; Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:6-7; 1 Tim. 5:8; James 2:9; 5:4; 1 John 2:9; 3:10; 4:8; 4:20.


We’ll face punishment.

"Don’t rob the poor and sick! For the Lord is their defender. If you injure them, he will punish you" (Prov. 22:22-23).

"Don’t steal the land of defenseless orphans ... for their Redeemer is strong; he himself will accuse you (Prov. 23:11).

More Scriptures: Neh 5:13; Job 22:10-11; 31:14-23; 36:16-18; Ps. 10:2; 10:12-15; 109:7; Is. 1:15; Mic. 2:1-3; Mal. 3:5; Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; 2 Thess. 1:6; James 2:13; 5:1.


We’ll face death.

"But a person who doesn’t have love for others is headed for eternal death" (1 John 3:14).

"But ... a robber or murderer ... who ... commits adultery, oppresses the poor and helpless, robs his debtors ... and loans out his money at interest—shall that man live? No! He shall surely die, and it is his own fault" (Ezek 18:10-13).

Also read: Job 20:7.


Our nation will face judgment.

"You have driven out the widows from their homes ... Up! Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it up with sin and it will vomit you out" (Mic. 2:9-10).

"Listen, you ... who rob the poor, trampling on the needy ... who make slaves of the poor, buying them for their debt of a piece of silver or a pair of shoes, or selling them your moldy wheat: the Lord ... has sworn: "I won’t forget your deeds! The land will tremble as it awaits its doom, and everyone will mourn" (Amos 8: 4-8).

More Scriptures: Ex. 22:23-24; Ps. 82:5; Isa. 1:9-10; 1:17; 1:20; 1:23-27; 3:14; 5:9; 5:23-25; 14:30; Jer. 5:26-29; 7:3-7; 21:12-14; 22:3-5; 22:17; 34:8-22; Ezek. 16:46-50; 22:2-15; 22:31; 34:2-20; Amos 2:6-7; 4:1-2; 4:11-12; 5:10-13; 6:1-7; 9-10; Obad. v.10; v:15-16; Mic. 3:9-12; 7:3-4; Zech. 7:8-14; 11:16-17.


How great a sin is failing to "love our neighbors?"

Jesus compared it to not loving him. That included forgetting to feed or clothe the needy; house "strangers" (often foreigners or immigrants); or visit the sick and prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46). He decried lack of mercy, forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35), generosity, and justice (Luke 11:37-44).

Job’s friends believed he’d sinned terribly. Did they think he’d committed rape? Robbery? Murder? No. "You must have refused to loan money to needy friends unless they gave you all their clothing as a pledge ... refused water to the thirsty and bread to the starving ... You sent widows away without helping them, and broke the arms of orphans. That is why you are now surrounded by traps and sudden fears, and darkness and waves of horror" (Job 22:4-11).

All those sins were failures to "love" Job’s "neighbors!"

To defend himself, Job emphasized that he had faithfully loved and helped his neighbors:

"If I have been unfair to my servants, how could I face God? What could I say when he questioned me about it? For God ... made my servant too. He created us both.

"If I have hurt the poor or caused widows to weep, or refused food to hungry orphans - (but we have always cared for orphans in our home, treating them as our own children) - or if I have seen anyone freezing and not given him clothing, or fleece from my sheep to keep him warm, or if I have taken advantage of an orphan because I thought I could get away with it ... then let my arm be torn from its socket! Let my shoulder be wrenched out of place! Rather that than face the judgment sent by God" (Job 31:13-23; 21:33-34; also read: Ps. 109:16-17).

When the New Testament’s preachers urged their listeners to repent of sin, wouldn’t they have included the same sins Jesus and Job’s friends did?


What does Sodom’s destruction teach us about loving our neighbors?

Wait! What does Sodom have to do with loving our neighbors? Weren’t Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed for homosexuality?

That’s a common idea. Both cities were guilty of it, to the point that bands of homosexuals roamed Sodom’s streets at night looking for travelers to molest. God certainly was against that.

What was the city like? "Unusually wicked;" "Utterly evil;" "Terrible wickedness;" "Thoroughly depraved." (Gen. 13:12-13; 18:20; 2 Pet. 2:8; Jer. 23:14).

There are two reasons we often think homosexuality caused Sodom’s judgment. First, Jude v. 7 says one example of Sodom’s sins was "lust of men for other men."

Second, Gen. 19:1-11 describes how, the night before the city’s destruction, gangs of homosexuals wanted to rape two visiting angels. Sounds like a good reason, doesn’t it? But, even before that happened, God had already pronounced Sodom’s judgment. (Genesis 18:16-33.)

So what sins did make God condemn the cities?

"Sodom’s sins were pride, laziness, and too much food, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She insolently worshiped many idols as I watched. Therefore I crushed her." (Ezek. 16:48-50.)

Doesn’t that sound like many of us today?

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos also compared Israel and Judah to Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? The same reason: Israel, like Sodom, was neglecting her poor and needy. And Deut. 32:32 compares Israel’s enemies to "men of Sodom and Gomorrah" for following false gods – one of the sins Ezekiel listed - but, again, not for homosexuality. 

Read: Isa. 1:10; 1:15-17; 1:23-25; Jer. 23:14; Amos 4:1-2; 4:11.


Another of Amos’ prophecies strongly supports those passages:

"Woe to those lounging in luxury at Jerusalem and Samaria ... by your deeds you bring the Day of Judgment near.

"You lie on ivory beds surrounded with luxury, eating the meat of the tenderest lambs and the choicest calves. You sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be as great musicians as King David was.

"You drink wine by the bucketful and perfume yourselves with sweet ointments, caring nothing at all that your brothers need your help. Therefore you will be the first to be taken as slaves" (Amos 6:1-7).

What was so sinful about fine living? Only this: those people placed pleasure above caring for their hungry, sick, and needy. Amos warned them forcefully that that sin, alone, would bring severe judgment!


Yes, Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of homosexuality. And we see God’s anger with that in every Biblical passage that mentions it. Deut. 23:17-18, for example, says "you must not bring to the Lord any offering from the earnings of a prostitute or a homosexual, for both are detestable to the Lord your God."

(Yet we also see God’s love for those guilty of sexual sins in places like John 8:3-7, the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. And the single person I’ve known personally for whom I have seen God show his love the most, in very exceptional ways, was a former prostitute. It is a strong lesson that we are still to see and love the person behind the acts.)

Neither Ezekiel nor any of the other prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos) who compared Israel and Judah to Sodom and Gomorrah listed homosexuality as a reason why. Instead, they unitedly condemned Israel and Judah for not taking care of their poor and needy! Do we realize this must mean, that, as much as God does hate homosexuality, he hates letting our neighbors suffer even more?

If we need to repent of today’s casual views toward homosexuality, don’t we also need to repent of our casual attitude toward the poor? Aren’t we inviting God to repeat Sodom’s judgment – on us?


Why else should we "love our neighbors?"

Loving our neighbors shows Christian maturity.

We often emphasize what we get from God. We get love. We get joy. We get peace. We get salvation. We get healing. We get the Holy Spirit. We get prayers answered. We get to go to heaven.

All those are wonderful! Yet they’re only where we begin as Christians.

When we were children, didn’t we enjoy getting presents at birthdays and Christmas? Were we as excited about giving? Didn’t our parents have to teach us that? Many of us didn’t fully learn that it was "more blessed to give than to receive" until we had children of our own.

Neither of the two commandments Jesus called the most important talks about what we get! They both talk about what we give! We are to give love to God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to give love and help to our neighbors.

We begin as "babes in Christ," thoroughly enjoying what we get. That’s OK. Wouldn’t we worry about children who didn’t enjoy presents? But God doesn’t want us to stay there. He longs for us to grow up, mature, and come to know the joys and blessings of giving.


Many passages teach it.

More than 3,600 verses in this book alone teach about loving our neighbors. Contrast that with some popular teachings based on a tiny numnber of Scriptures.

Six of the Ten Commandments emphasize loving our neighbors (Ex. 20:12-17).

And Paul says, "All ten [commandments] 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" (Rom. 13:9-10).


Messianic psalms and prophecies emphasized loving needy neighbors.

"Messianic" passages foretell the Messiah’s coming. Many tell how he will "love and help" the needy. Here’s one:

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God's favor to them has come. To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness" (Isa. 61:1-3).

Also read: Ps. 68:4-6; Is. 9:5-7; 11:1-9; 42:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6; Luke 4:16-20.


"Loving our neighbors" shows others God’s love.

A neighbor sent us this note after we’d given her family food:

"You have shown me God’s love and you have shown my children God’s love. I want to thank you for being such willing messengers of God. Through you four I have finally realized how much God loves me and I have finally realized how much I love God. Because of who you are I know that I want God to be as much [with] me as he is you."


Loving our neighbors can lead to a move of God.

"Share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don't hide from relatives who need your help.

"Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring" (Isa. 58:6-11).


And moves of God cause us to love our neighbors.

"Love your neighbors" ministry flourished during two of history’s greatest moves of God.

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, he gave them many laws to help the poor.

And the birth of the Christian church was marked by overflowing love and generosity that impressed the community, built the church’s reputation, and multiplied conversions.

Back then, how many people do you suppose said "the church is just after money?" How could they, when they saw how much the church was giving?

(Read: Acts 4:32-37)


Loving our neighbors helps our churches grow.

"Loving its neighbors" fueled the growth of one of the world’s largest Christian churches, Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul, Korea. The church started "by giving out relief and establishing orphanages. The church would initially come from [people] who were hungry or crippled, people who had been broken in spirit as well as body."

"The church was there ‘to preach the gospel to the poor ... to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.’ (Luke 4:18-19). And so the church grew." (Nell Kennedy, "Dream Your Way To Success," Logos International, pp.165, 180.)


One of Louisiana’s largest churches, The Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, grew because "we found couples who had just become parents and brought them diapers and formula. We visited elderly people who were sick, and cooked meals for the families of people who were hospitalized. And soon one thing began leading to another." (Dino Rizzo, "Servolution," Zondervan, 2009, p. 22.)

Read: Titus 3:8; 2 Cor. 6:6; 6:11-13; Jude v. 23.

I believe the greatest future moves of God will come through churches that wholeheartedly love both God and their neighbors, and show it by helping.


Love wins!

Several of us once hiked across the high, spectacular mountains in Grand Teton National Park.

At 5 AM one August morning we left a 7,000-foot-high west-side campground and plodded up into a 9,000-foot-high basin containing a small lake.

As we climbed higher, the trees grew smaller. The ground became covered with exquisitely beautiful tiny white mountain flowers. "Dippers," also called "water ouzels," flew up and down below the rims of small gullies we passed. Pikas (small prairie-dog-like animals) whistled shrilly as we walked by.

After we passed the lake, only stunted trees and shrubs remained. Soon the trees ended. Then so did the grass, weeds, and flowers. We made our way up over bare rock, climbing a steep "talus" slope composed of boulders that teetered back and forth as we stepped from one to the next.

Finally we reached smooth rock leading to the range’s crest. Large patches of snow lay on the slopes all around us. A slender, 200-foot-high waterfall plunged down a vertical cliff, interrupted by a tiny lake on a rocky ledge.

Then, unexpectedly, just before we crossed the 10,300-foot-high divide,.one lone snow-white flower poked its blossom up out of a crack in the rock. Just one. There wasn’t another as far as I could see in any direction.

Amazed, I thought, "You foolish little flower! Why are you even trying to grow up here? It's too cold! Too harsh! You're too fragile! You can't live!"

We went on across the crest, around a large snowfield, down past a lovely sapphire-blue glacial lake and a nearby deep green one, then down a brushy side canyon to the main trail 2,000 feet below.

And I began thinking.

I thought about that beautiful flower. Its fragility was in such contrast to the mighty mountains! But then I remembered abundant broken rock working its way down from the heights, and the "Boom! Boom! Boom!" of a large boulder crashing down a nearby canyon. I thought about the harsh alpine weather that wore those impregnable-looking peaks a tiny fraction of an inch lower each year.

And every year a few more of those delicate flowers appeared, taking root in new crevices.

Then I thought far ahead. I saw those mountains worn down to hills - covered thickly with the descendants of those fragile, beautiful flowers.

The rocks were stronger. But the flowers were more patient. In the end, they would win.

Love is like that.

In the end, its "flowers" (gentleness, peace, faith, and hope) will defeat Satan’s works – lies, hatred, selfishness, and failure to help our "neighbors."


"Love goes on forever" (1 Cor 13:8).


"The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others." - Vincent Van Gogh



























































































































































































































































































































































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