On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37 NIV
We were made for love. A love that surpasses social status, performance, good deeds, or the reciprocation of it. God commands us to love Him with all our soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This isn't a suggestion, but a commandment. And if we're not loving our neighbor well, it must mean that we're not loving ourselves. We must receive the perfect love of God to love ourselves before we can truly love others well.
We either live our lives directed by the compass of fear, or the compass of love. The Pharisees and religious teachers in Jesus' time lived by the compass of fear. Everything they did was because they were afraid that God would not be pleased if they didn't. They were so bound by their law that they could not show love and mercy when someone was in need, which is what God would have actually desired. When we live instead directed by the compass of love, everything we do is from a place of loving God and loving others as we love ourselves. This is the most fulfilling way we can live our lives, as it was how God created us to live. Let us be directed by the compass of love, set ablaze by God Himself with compassion and love for Him and others.
1. What does it look like for you to love God with all your soul, strength, and mind? Share what that practically looks like for you.
2. Have you had a difficult time loving yourself? If so, why? Share about your journey.
3. Who is the neighbor on your path that God is calling you to love as you love yourself? How can you love them well?