The Old Testament Law was very specific when it came to personal injuries. Exodus 21:23-24 says, “But if there’s serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” And Leviticus 24:19-20 went on to direct, “If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.” So when Jesus spoke these words of passive resistance and tolerance rather than retaliation and revenge…it turned these Old Testament Laws on their heads. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, came to earth declaring a message of love and harmony with our fellow man…and not of repaying evil for evil. (Romans 12:17 & I Peter 3:9)
Paul’s letter to the Church in Thessalonica encouraged them to love each other by following the example of Jesus. For the past year we have been part of a brand new Church plant…bringing people together from several Churches to form a new one. And today was our second service, with many new faces among us. So as I look at this verse, I’m reminded that for the past six months we’ve bonded together as a small group, but now the time has come that we must turn ourselves from our tight circle to welcome those coming in through the doors. For the agape love of Jesus can only be demonstrated by His Believers when we love others. And we can only be His hands and feet when our caring shows.
Maybe you were the child that all your parents had to do was look at you sternly and you stopped misbehaving. Or maybe it took much more effort from your parents before it finally sunk in that what you were doing was wrong. Parents correct their children out of the love they have for them, not because they want to be mean, but because they want only the best for them. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” When we can view difficulties in our life as loving correction from God rather than just punishment…our entire spiritual perspective and faith will be impacted and increased.
We are to continue to love one another as family, even when the family unit becomes dysfunctional. For we can choose our friends, but we’re born into a family…and family last forever. So, regardless how messy it may get, as Christians, we’re to love each other with a brotherly love out of the common bond of Jesus Christ. Because the commonality we have with each other is far stronger than any friction.
In a marriage, men are to look to Jesus as the example. For Jesus spoke of the Church as His bride and He the bridegroom. Jesus demonstrated His love for His bride by willingly dying in her place. This type of love is devoted, selfless, and sacrificing. It’s a love that cherishes, values, and treats as precious another person. In modern language, it’s a love that would take a bullet for her.
During the very darkest time of my life I would read Psalm 86 in its entirety out loud every morning. I was alone, isolated from friends and family, and in the middle of a very violent relationship. I felt hopeless, helpless and totally alone. As I read these words out loud, I could almost hear David reminding himself that the Lord was near. And as he recalled all of God’s attributes…His great love, His mercy, compassion, and faithfulness, I too would be reminded of them and what God had done for me. And in the end, just like David, this Psalm gave me the strength and courage to endure for one more day.
When you have night blindness, you have limited visibility in the dark…and take it from me, it makes driving at night very difficult at times. When we’re walking in the darkness of sin it’s much like having night blindness…we’re unsure of where we’re going, we’re full of fear, and we’re apprehensive about what’s up ahead. But the blindness of sin can be overcome by the light of God…for this light depicts the very essence of His character and holiness. And when we walk in that spiritual illumination of God’s light, our path is made sure.
It’s easy to love those we have a natural affinity for. It’s not hard at all to love our family and those close to us. Nor is it difficult to love those we’re naturally attracted to. But what about those who are like sandpaper against our soul? What about the unlovely of the world…the disagreeable, repugnant, and unpleasant people who God has called us to love regardless? For Jesus didn’t add any exceptions when He told us to, “Love one another.” But when we have the love of God…the unconditional, Agape, love within, we are able to look beyond the exterior and love the unlovely.
Do you realize just how much God loves you? He’s not stingy or tight-fisted with His compassion towards you. Nor does His unconditional love depend on how good you are any peculiar day …or how many “works” you have on your mental score-sheet. God’s grace and love towards you is generous, abundant, and more than enough to cover anything that happens to you today.
In the Gospels, it tells us to love each other…whether it’s family, neighbors, or enemies…God’s word instructs us to love one another. For when we obey His word, His love is truly made complete in us. (I John 2:5) And by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s love will manifest and be perfected in us as we display that love to others.