Scripture: Romans 13: 8-14
Key verses: (9-10) “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Reflection: Commenting on the Ten Commandments, Paul sums up the law with one word: love. We don’t usually put law and love together in our culture. But, when Paul speaks of love he isn’t talking about rules. He is talking about good news. The law or Torah was, as scholar Walter Brueggeman says, “made (and makes) humanness possible.” It is meant to be transformative; not restrictive. Six of the ten commandments have to do with how we treat one another. When we treat our neighbors well, respecting their possessions, preserving their lives, and rejoicing in their success, we show love. This kind of love is not romantic or self-serving, rather it is the voluntary self-giving of one’s self, time and efforts to build up another person. Yet, “love your neighbor as yourself” often only remains a beautiful sentiment because many people don’t love themselves. If you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to love someone else. I wonder how many of our efforts to love our “neighbor” are thwarted because of this sad fact. Early life experiences can rob us of the joy of knowing how much God loves us. Sometimes our neighbor reminds us of our own brokenness. Sometimes our neighbor reflects back to us everything we don’t like about ourselves. Sometimes we are so busy trying to fill an emptiness inside that we forget to think about anybody else. Paul reminds us that the only thing we owe to one another is love. Out of gratitude for God’s self-giving, long-suffering and merciful love, we are called to reach out to one another – not just the people we know – but everyone in our community. This includes, those we agree with and those we don’t. Those we are related to and those who are strangers. Those who live on the streets of our city and those who live in luxury. Those who are like us and those who are different. It’s not easy, but that’s the challenge of love. Jesus is our example and we are invited by Paul to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Try it and you might discover that God’s love is accepted everywhere.
Prayer: Gracious God, we need your help. There are too many times when we act out of our own self-interest forgetting our neighbors. We struggle to love ourselves in a life-giving way. Transform us into compassionate servants of Jesus Christ in order that others looking at us might see him. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].