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The Command to Love Others

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The Command to Love Others

Lev. 19:9-18

Mt 5:43-48


Did you hear about the pitiful man whose fiancé broke their engagement and shredded his tender heart?

He later received a letter of apology and desire for reconciliation.

It read:

Dearest Jimmy,
No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement.

Please say you’ll take me back.

No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me.

I love you,

I love you,

I love you!

Yours forever, Marie

PS: Congratulations on winning the state lottery!

“I will love you… if…”

God gives one reason in Leviticus as to why we should love others:  ‘I am the Lord.’  ‘I, the Lord your God, am Lord.’

14 x’s in chpt 19 refrain:  ‘I am the Lord’.

Context of Leviticus

19:1-8  be holy because I, the Lord your God am holy.

Lets get this straight. 

Who is in charge here?

       Who is giving the command and who is to follow?

The One giving the command to you – “I am – the holy One – I am the Lord”

The command:

Be holy like your God.

Love like your God.

Show your love for God by simple obedience: ‘Love your neighbor.’

Leviticus gives several rules as to how to live in society and sums up with vs. 18 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.

This has become known as The Golden Rule

Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This is a universal rule stated in almost every world religion.

This rule sums up the basic moral code upon which every healthy society has been based.


“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 7:12 NIVUS)

What is the motivation to love others as yourself?

God loves me. 

He has chosen to enter into a relationship of love with me. 

He has brought me out of slavery in Egypt

provided for me

and protected me.

God, you love me so much. 

I want to show my love for you. 

I’ll do anything for you.

God responds: 

‘Love others in the same way you have been loved.’

But we make excuses.

We get people like lawyers who can tear apart the letter of the law

so our obedience can be as little as possible

so we can get away with as much as possible!


A professor of psychology had no children of his own,

but whenever he saw a neighbor scolding a child for some wrongdoing, he would say,

"You should love your boy, not punish him."

One hot summer afternoon the professor was doing some repair work on a concrete driveway leading to his garage.

Tired out after several hours of work,

he laid down the towel,

wiped the perspiration from his forehead,

and started toward the house.

Just then out of the corner of his eye he saw a mischievous little boy putting his foot into the fresh cement.

He rushed over,

grabbed him,

and was about to spank him severely

when a neighbor leaned from a window and said,

"Watch it, Professor!

Don’t you remember?

You must ’love’ the child!"

At this, he yelled back furiously,

"I do love him in the abstract but not in the concrete!" [1]

What kinds of people do we excuse ourselves from loving?

If someone mistreats us

do we become bitter and hateful toward them and say that turnabout is fair play?

If someone speaks evil of us

do we start tearing them down with our words?

Jesus said, there is no reward for that kind of twisted love.

Do we consider certain people beneath us and not worthy of the effort to even acknowledge them?

Love your neighbor:  

Leviticus 19:18 says "do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself"

‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ can be translated: ‘one who is like yourself’.

The rabbis taught that this verse only applies to loving other Jewish people.

Therefore if a non-Jewish person didn’t treat you well, then it was okay to hate that person because he wasn’t Jewish!

Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

Along comes the rabbi Jesus and in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ addresses the law and to the traditional interpretation of the law.

 “You have heard… but I tell you…”

·       Do not murder > do not be angry

·       Do not commit adultery > do not look with lust

·       If you divorce – get a certificate of divorce > again Jesus raises the bar as to the consequences of divorce.

Jesus tightens the law

a.      Scripture warns of ‘breaking’ (loosen) the Law

“Anyone who breaks (Greek: ‘Loo-o’ means: ‘loosen’ or ‘relax’) one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:19 NIVUS)

b.     Jesus clarifies where man distorts

c.      Warns against tolerance – tolerating the breaking of God’s law to a point there is no longer sin

No sin = no need for a savior

The Law of God was not given to justify man,

but to show his sin,

and a need for a savior.

We are not made innocent by observing the Law, but guilty.

We are only found innocent as we come to Jesus Christ,

receive His forgiveness,

and discover our disobedience being replaced by His perfect obedience.

Jesus speaks to: The Command to Love

Mt 5:43-48:

"You have heard that it was said,

‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I tell you:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’

(Mt 5:43,44 NIVUS)

Luke 10 records Jesus speaking to this command to love your neighbor.

He was asked,

“And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then told the story of the Good Samaritan.

From that story we find that we should be a neighbor to anyone in need,

regardless of their race,


or personal hygiene.

Jesus often teaches with stories.

When Jesus wanted to teach about perfect love He told the story we call ‘The Prodigal Son’.

The story isn’t about the son as much as it is about the Father.

In the story you find that the Father gives,

He waits,

He hopes,

He runs,

He embraces

and welcomes,

He forgives,

He celebrates,

He bestows undeserved honor and blessing.

The story of a son leaving home was a familiar one to the Jews.

Jesus took this story and breathed redemption, grace, forgiveness, and restoration into it,

not only showing what God is like,

but showing what the religious leaders of the day were like – self-centered and unconcerned about those who had not yet responded to God’s perfect love.

Why should we love one another?

       1)  God commands us.

       2)  Jesus teaches the deep meaning of the command.

3)  Jesus demonstrates that love; washing His disciples feet.

John 13.

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (Joh 13:15 NIVUS)

4)  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice because of love.

Jesus died on the cross for me – even when I was still His enemy!

The Command to Love // The Motivation to Love

Jesus is calling us simply to show some Family Resemblance.

He is calling us to love the way He loves

and the way his Dad does,

but He doesn’t expect us to do it ourselves.

He is the

·        Example of servant love

·        Motivation – we love because He first loved us.

·        Source of perfect love. We cannot produce it ourselves.

1 John 3:16-18

16  This is how we know what love is:

Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

17  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

18  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1Jo 3:16-18 NIVUS)

1 John 4:16-19

“16  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love.

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

17 ¶  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.

18  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19  We love because he first loved us.” (1Jo 4:16-19 NIVUS)

The KJV adds an object in that sentence: ‘We love HIM because he first loved us.’

But there is no object given in the original.

Simply ‘We love because He first loved us.’

God’s love gives us the capacity to love.

God’s love keeps flowing downward to us

and then through us

God’s love then reaches

·       those who have been beaten down by life,

·       beaten down by the world,

·       and in some cases, beaten down by religious people.

God’s perfect love that restores is the answer the world has been looking for, but they must see it in action.

It is our job

and calling to show God’s perfect love.

But again, we can only show and tell what we’ve seen and heard and experienced for ourselves.

Serving others usually requires no special talent or ability.

It does take a servant attitude to want to serve others

It takes an observant eye to see what needs to be done.

If we have the servant attitude, we can develop an observant eye.

The reason most of us do not see the opportunities to serve is that we are continually thinking about ourselves instead of others.

We have not learned that we are to look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).

Of course, God must give us a servant attitude.

We cannot change our hearts.

But we can do those things which God ordinarily uses to change us.

He uses the Scripture,


and obedience.

So we must fill our minds with the Scriptures that teach servanthood.

We must pray earnestly for God to give us the heart of a servant,

and then we must obey.

That is, we must respond to every opportunity to serve which He places before us.

We cannot pick and choose our occasions of serving others if we want God to give us a servant’s heart.

He changes us in the midst of obedience.[2]

The command to love others

-        without excuse

-        simply:  You command & I will trust You and obey.

Why will we obey?

1.     The One who commands – He is my Lord and has already set me free.

2.     Jesus teaches us to love others

3.     Jesus demonstrates the servant attitude

4.     Jesus has paid the ultimate sacrifice for me – while I was still His enemy

5.     The Holy Spirit enables me to love.  I do not have to love others in my own ability.

Mission Statement of Scotland Baptist Church:

“Our purpose is to grow in our love for God and for others.”

How will we grow in this love?

By living in obedience to His command.

Brothers and sisters:  Let us love one another and thus fulfill our king’s royal command.


[1] [Sunshine Magazine]

[2]Discipleship Journal : Issue 27. 1999 (electronic ed.). Colorado Springs: The Navigators/NavPress.

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