Series: The Greatest Commandment
Sermon: Love Neighbor
Scripture Readings: Romans 13:8-10, John 15:12-17
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
Monday April 23 — Leviticus 19:9-18
The Old Testament Book of Leviticus has been called the “manual of the priests” and was traditionally used as a resource for teaching Jewish children about the Jewish faith. It contains laws that encompass all aspects of individual and community life in Israel: everything from worship rituals to dietary regulations. In chapter 19, we learn about living a holy life. At the heart of the chapter are these familiar words: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). How might these words guide your actions this week? How will you love your neighbor today?
• Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for teaching me your ways. Help me to understand what is important to you. Give me courage to live the holy life you desire for me. Amen.
Tuesday April 24 — Deuteronomy 15:7-11
Leviticus 19 is not the only chapter in the Torah (the first 5 books in the Old Testament) that describes God’s intentions for relationships with neighbors. Deuteronomy 15 insists that God’s people not be “hard-hearted or tight-fisted” (Deuteronomy 15:7). Instead, we are to “give liberally and be ungrudging” (Deuteronomy 15:10). The message is clear: God desires mercy, compassion, and generosity. What do you think about this teaching? How will you respond?
• Prayer: Compassionate God, remind me of your amazing grace and inspire in me the desire to extend your mercy and compassion to my neighbors and people in need. Amen.
Wednesday April 25 — Luke 10:25-37
When Jesus was tested by a lawyer (an expert in Jewish law), he (Jesus) affirmed that God’s primary desire is that we love God and love our neighbor. But the lawyer asked a very important follow-up question: “who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Like the lawyer, we want to set limits on God’s requirement that we love our neighbor. What we discover is that Jesus’ definition of a neighbor is quite different than ours. Remember: Samaritans and Israelites had a contentious relationship. They would more likely have been enemies than “neighbors.” So, how will you embody Jesus’ teaching in your life today?
• Prayer: God of Love, teach me to see other people the way you see them. Teach me to treat others the way you want me to treat them. Teach me to be a good neighbor. Amen.
Thursday April 26 — Romans 13:8-10
According to his letters and the tradition of the Church, the Apostle Paul took Jesus’ teaching and example quite seriously. Writing to the Church in Rome he insisted that all of the commandments “are summed up in this word: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Romans 13:9). What is the single commandment that guides your life? What would change in your life if “love your neighbor as yourself” was your primary guide for your words and actions?
• Prayer: Merciful God, I confess that I do not always obey your teaching and love my neighbors as myself. Forgive me I pray. Transform my life according to your word. Amen.
Friday April 27 — Galatians 5:13-15
Being saved by God’s grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8) does not set us free from having to obey God’s law. Instead, God’s grace sets us free so that we can obey God’s law and live the life that God intends for us, a life of joy and abundance, a life of grace and peace: a life of love. Review your words and actions over the past few days. How well have you obeyed God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself”? (Galatians 5:14). What would like to do differently next week? What will you do differently next week?
• Prayer: Almighty God, do not let me use the gift of freedom for my own purposes. Instead, transform my life so that I can obey your great commandment to love my neighbor. Amen.
Saturday April 28 — John 15:12-17
In his final words to his disciples, Jesus gave them “a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). It turns out that the phrase “love one another” occurs four different times in Jesus’ final instructions. This means that it is important and that we should take it seriously. If we are Jesus’ disciples, we will bear the fruit of love. What is one way that you will “go and bear fruit” today? (John 15:16)
• Prayer: God of Grace, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending him to be my Savior and friend. With your help I will bear the kind of fruit – love – that will last. Amen.