It’s all about the relationship. In any kind of relationship hopefully there’s give and take… communication and mutual respect…connection and co-operation. But our relationship with the Lord is totally unique from any we have here on earth. God’s covenant relationship with us is binding and unbreakable…bought by the blood of Jesus Christ…while we were yet sinners. And His loving kindness and mercy towards us has nothing to do with how good we are…for it is a free gift. So think about it…the relationship we have with our Lord is really rather lopsided, with Him giving so much more to us than we could ever give back. This covenant of love that flows between God and us gives us a purpose in life… and as we commit our heart, soul, and strength to Him, we are ever being changed from the inside out.
You can see the love of God in His covenant relationship with His people. He wants only the very best for us and in return asks only for our obedience. For when we pay careful attention to our obligations to this covenant…primarily in our lifestyle and relationship with Him…others will sense the difference in us and ask questions. And those questions can lead to eternal answers.
To move towards loving one another…we must move away from empty meaningless words and move towards words and actions that are rooted in sincerity. So, how’s your follow-through? Are you real good at promising things, but then lack the commitment to carry them out? Romans 12:9 tells us, “Love must be sincere…” When your word is your bond, your actions are dependable and genuine…and the integrity of your character will never be questioned. When your actions follow your words…the love of Christ is carried out and on display for all to see.
To move towards loving one another…we must move away from hate, anger, and bitterness. Here in Ephesians we are told to get rid of these negative traits and emotions. Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “get rid of” in this verse actually means to put away vices. Vices, a word you don’t hear often…a word that according to the Dictionary means habitual faults or undesirable behavior patterns. Sadly, too many children take into adulthood bad behaviors that were first modeled for them by their parents. They watch as their family inappropriately handles conflict and confrontation, and listen as others are slandered and vilified around the dining-room table. We learn what we see and hear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put off our old fleshly nature and move away from adverse behaviors that are causing us pain and resentment.
When the Lord brings to mind a person…what do you do? You may say to yourself, “I haven’t touched base with that person in a long time, I wonder how they’re doing…and leave it at that. But have you ever thought that there’s a reason the Lord laid on your heart that individual? God wants you to do two things. The first is to pray, thanking God for them and asking for His Will to be done in their life. But secondly, He wants you to contact them. We are to love one another, and your encouragement may be the very thing they need that day.
As a Christian we live two lives. One is our inner life…or our vertical life. This is our very intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father and consists of prayer and Bible study. This vertical life is spent getting to know God. The other is our outer life…or our horizontal life. This is our relationship with others as an ambassador for Christ. It consists of being the hands and feet of Jesus. This horizontal life is spent showing the love of God to the unloved and unlovely. Both are vitally important and interdependent on each other…for both are necessary to a vibrant and growing Christian walk. Our vertical relationship with Christ sparks us to reach out horizontally to others with His love… which sends us back to Him to be refilled…only to be again compelled to reach out for Him.
The Law of Moses can be summarized or distilled into one commandment…Love your neighbor as yourself. But in this modern technological age, our neighbor isn’t just someone living near us anymore. Our neighbor can be anyone around the globe that’s in peril and needing assistance. For to love your neighbor like yourself is to simply show appreciation and respect to others…no matter where they live.