Loving With an Undivided Heart Surrounded By Hatred

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were in Ephesus. More specifically today’s passage begins with the seventh  verse of the fourth chapter and continues through to the twenty-first verse of the fifth chapter. “Beloved, lost us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love on another. No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” 1 John 4:7-13).

 

            “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he is in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we have boldness in the day of judgment : because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:14-21).

 

            “Whosever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that began loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandment: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of Go\d overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness o men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this is in his son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:1-12).

 

            “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that y may believe on the name of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is in: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whoeover is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the world world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children , keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:13-21).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the conclusion of this first epistle written by the apostle John. Throughout the epistle written by the apostle John you will find certain themes that are undeniable to see woven throughout the tapestry and fabric of it. From the beginning of this first epistle written by the apostle John you will find him speaking in great length and in great detail concerning two crucial elements for the Christian life. The two elements which the apostle John wrote and spoke of were loving God and loving people—two commands which were highlighted within the four gospels as the greatest commandments within the Law given to Moses atop the mountain in the wilderness. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in the New Testament gospels written by the apostles Matthew and John, the gospel written by John Mark and the gospel written by Luke and not encounter the absolutely wonderful truth that we as the saints of God and we as those who have come after and followed the Lord Jesus Christ have first and foremost been called to love the Lord our God—and not only to love the LORD our God but also to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength. When religious leaders came to Jesus seeking to tempt and trap Him in His words that they might find reason to accuse Him they would ask Him which was the greatest of the commandments. Upon hearing their question Jesus would without hesitation and reservation emphatically declare that the greatest commandment is to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that there was a certain lawyer and teacher of the Law who came unto Jesus speaking of these two commandments whom upon hearing his response Jesus declared that he was not far from the kingdom of heaven.

 

            There is a great need for us to recognize that which is found in the four gospel narratives written by the gospel authors which are found in the New Testament for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the clarion call and undeniable need to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength. In fact if you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find in the opening verses of this chapter this command which was largely and widely understood as the single greatest commandment in the entire Law of Moses. With this being said you will find that as you read the words which are presented in this passage of Scripture you will see Moses describing the LORD as being one. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the living and eternal God being one Lord. When Moses was speaking unto the children of Israel he would begin by declaring that the LORD their God was one Lord. It was precisely because the LORD their God was one Lord they were to respond by loving him with their whole person and their whole being. As you speak about and discuss the first and greatest commandment in the Law you must needs recognize that loving the LORD our God is not something that can be done with only one part of us. It is absolutely impossible to love the LORD our God with our heart alone and exclude any of the other areas of our being—the mind, the soul and the strength. There is absolutely no way to love the LORD our God with our mind and exclude the heart while perhaps excluding or not excluding the soul and the strength. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws us into a place where we recognize and understand just how we are to love the LORD our God. Consider if you will the actual words which are found in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy beginning with the first and opening verse of the chapter:

 

            “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).

 

            Pay close attention to how this particular chapter found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy opens and begins for within it we find Moses declaring unto the children of Israel concerning the commandment—and not only the commandment but also the statutes and judgments which the LORD their God commanded to teach them. The underlying purpose for this is that they may observe them in the land which they were crossing over to possess that they may fear the LORD your God to keep all His commandments and His commandments. If you continue reading the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find Moses calling the children of Israel to hear and to be careful to observe the command which he was speaking unto them that it may be well with them and that they may multiply great as the LORD God of their fathers had promised them. It would then be after speaking these words Moses would go on to declare that the LORD their God was one Lord. This is something we must not miss nor lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our understanding that the living and eternal God is indeed one LORD. It is precisely because the LORD our God is one Lord that we must needs recognize that our response to Him must indeed be united. When we speak of the first and greatest commandment we cannot miss nor lose sight of the fact that we cannot say we truly love the LORD our God with either a divided heart or our being as a whole being divided. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth of how we ourselves are one being—a being which is and has been called to love the LORD our God with every part of who we are.

 

            In the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms you will find the psalmist David writing and speaking unto the LORD his God concerning his heart that he might not have a divided heart. David recognized and understood the tremendous importance of having a heart that was united before and in the presence of the living God. A heart that is divided in the sight of the living God is a heart that cannot fully nor completely love the LORD the way it was intended and created to. That heart which is divided is such that cannot at all love the LORD fully and completely without reservation, hesitation and restriction. What’s more is that when you think about an undivided heart—not only are you coming face to face with a heart that does not love God fully and completely but you also encounter the reality of one who is holding and keeping a piece and portion of themselves back. Recall in the New Testament book of Acts that Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land and kept a portion back for themselves while bringing a portion of the proceeds unto the apostles. While in and of itself keeping a portion of the proceeds for themselves was not problematic, troublesome nor even a sin there was indeed a problem with coming into the presence of the LORD pretending and acting as though you were giving everything to Him. This couple sold a portion of land and brought a part of the proceeds unto the apostles and attempted to lie both to them and to the Holy Ghost by declaring that they had brought everything they had received from the sale. This is something we dare not and must not miss nor lose sight of for when they came into the presence of the apostles and the brethren it was the apostle Peter who spoke unto them and declared that they were such who lied to the Holy Spirit. The way they lied to the Holy Spirit was to give the appearance that they were giving everything unto Him while they were in fact holding and keeping a portion back for themselves.

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts for what we find within this book is a powerful picture of what it looks like to come into the presence of the Lord with the appearance that we are giving everything we have while secretly we are holding something back. What’s more is that when you read the words found within this passage you will find that even though they might have been able to lie to men and give men the appearance that they were in fact giving everything to the LORD the Holy Spirit was not deceived nor tricked by their deceit, by their lies nor by their falsehood. The Holy Spirit exposed their deceit and lies very early on during the days of the early church and demonstrated the tremendous danger in lying to the Holy Spirit. This is something which we must needs understand within our own hearts and lives for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need to come to God with our whole selves and leaving nothing behind. I am reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome and how the apostle Paul admonished them by the mercies of God to present their bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable in the sight of God which was their reasonable service or spiritual act of worship. What is so incredibly important about this is when you consider the fact that the apostle Paul didn’t merely admonish these saints to present a portion of themselves a living sacrifice which was holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God but rather their whole being and their whole person. You will also recall in the first epistle written unto the Thessalonian congregation the apostle Paul wrote of our whole selves and our whole beings having been sanctified by the living God—our body, our soul and our spirit.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the incredibly wonderful and powerful truth that is found here and I am brought face to face with the truth that we as the saints of God have indeed and have in fact been called to offer our whole selves before and unto the living God. There would be those who would try and enter into the presence of the LORD with only a portion of themselves and act as though that is somehow sufficient for Him. The truth of the matter is that the living and eternal God desires and requires our whole being—our heart, our mind, our soul, our strength and our spirit. When we come and appear before the LORD our God we are to appear as did those of the children of Israel in the Scripture—not empty-handed. Oh it is with this in mind I find it absolutely incredible to think about and consider the fact that there are countless times when men and women can enter into the house of the Lord and give the appearance of giving and presenting everything unto the living and eternal God and yet secretly and inwardly they are withholding something for themselves. What’s more is that this can be manifested in tithes and offerings as well as in our worship in the house and sanctuary of the living God. It is entirely and altogether possible for the saints of God to enter into the house of the LORD and to give the appearance they are giving that which is required of them while secretly and inwardly they are withholding and keeping a portion back for themselves. Oh this is the underlying truth surrounding David’s words concerning an undivided heart for David understood and recognized the danger of walking through life and attempting to walk with God having a divided heart. David understood and acknowledged the fact that having a divided heart was indeed dangerous if one sought to walk with and follow Him with everything they had in themselves.

 

            The more I think about and consider this particular truth the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth that when we think and speak about loving the LORD God we must acknowledge that we cannot and must not try and love Him with a portion of ourselves while keeping another portion of ourselves back. When Moses spoke unto the children of Israel he admonished and encouraged them to love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their mind and without their strength. This is something that warrants strong consideration within our hearts and minds for when and as we speak about loving the LORD our God we must needs acknowledge the fact that we cannot think nor believe that we can come before Him while holding and keeping a portion of ourselves back. There is absolutely no delight nor pleasure in the heart of God with those who seek to come and enter into His presence while keeping a portion of their heart back and not offering the whole being. There is absolutely no delight in the heart of the living God for those who think they can somehow enter into His presence presenting themselves as offering their whole selves and yet keeping a portion of it back for themselves. We have indeed been called to be those who love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength without holding anything back for ourselves. What’s more is if we are indeed seeking to hold a portion of our selves back from the living and eternal God we have to ask ourselves why. Why would we choose to hold a portion of our heart back from Him? Why would we hold all or a portion of our minds from Him? Why would we choose to hold back our soul and/or even our strength? Oh I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms and the words of the psalmist concerning the danger of a divided heart in the sight and presence of the living God:

 

            “Bow down your ear, O LORD, hear me; For I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am holy; you are my God; save your servant who trust in you! Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I cry to you all day long. Rejoice the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, O LORD; nor are there any works like your works. All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great, and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O LORD my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name forevermore. For great is your mercy toward me, and you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (Psalm 86:1-13).

 

           

            Mark well the words which are found in the eleventh and twelfth verses of this particular passage of Scripture for they help us to understand the incredible beauty surrounding giving our whole heart in the sight and presence of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how incredibly important this truly is for it brings us face to face with the need within our own lives to give unto the LORD our God our whole heart without holding anything back. It was the psalmist David who asked and entreated the LORD to unite his heart that he might fear His name. What’s more is that if you read the twelfth verse of this passage of Scripture you will find David going on to declare that He will praise the LORD his God with all [or his whole] heart. Oh how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for it brings us to the point and place where we understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who yield ourselves fully and completely to the living and eternal God. We as the saints of God must not be those who withhold any portion of ourselves back from the LORD. What’s more is that we as the saints of God must not be those who think and believe that we can somehow withhold a portion of our beings from the living and eternal God and think that this is somehow acceptable in His sight. David recognized and understood the importance of a United heart for only a heart that is united can truly fear the name of the LORD. Not only this but only a united heart can love the LORD our God the way it was designed and created to. There is a great need within our hearts and minds as the saints of God to understand and acknowledge that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who yield our whole hearts to the living and eternal God. We must not seek to keep or withhold a single portion of our heart back from the living and eternal God and somehow think and expect that to be okay.

 

            If you think about the greatest commandment you will discover that the LORD our God is one LORD and in response to His being one LORD we have indeed been called to be united in our pursuit of Him. There is a great need for us to recognize and acknowledge the fact that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who love the LORD our God with all our heart with all our soul with all our mind and with all our strength. This is something which warrants strong consideration for truly loving the LORD our God requires our whole being and is not something we can do with only a portion of our being. Those who think they can somehow love the LORD their God with only a portion of themselves deceive themselves and the truth of God is not in them. In fact this is precisely what the apostle John would write in this particular epistle for the second commandment is likened unto the first—namely, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. The apostle John would emphatically declare and ask the question how we can say we love God whom we cannot see if we can’t love our neighbor whom we do see. The apostle John would write in this epistle concerning loving in word and speech only and not loving in deed, in truth or in actions—something we have a great need of recognizing and paying attention to if we are to be the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John made it perfectly and abundantly clear that we cannot say that we love God and yet hate our neighbor for those who hate their neighbor are those who do not have the truth of the living God in them. The apostle John made it very clear that another evidence of a divided heart—specifically as it pertains to love—is saying we love the LORD our God whom we cannot and do not see and yet hate our neighbor who we do see in front of us in the flesh. Oh there is a great need for us as the saints of God to understand that we can indeed have a divided heart—not only in its not being united to love the LORD God fully and completely but also in saying we love the LORD our God and yet hating our neighbor.

 

            Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful truths which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount—a sermon in which He Himself taught the principles of the kingdom of heaven. Within and through the Sermon on the Mount Jesus would manifest the kingdom of heaven unto His disciples—those whom He had personally called—as well as unto the multitudes which had come unto Him. It would be in this Sermon on the Mount Jesus would in fact speak of our relationship to others and how we have indeed been called to love others—even our enemies. What’s more is that it is in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus would emphatically instruct and admonish us to do unto others as we would in fact have them do unto us. I continue to be captivated with the fact that Jesus didn’t instruct us to do unto others as others have done unto us but rather to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. What’s more is that when Jesus admonished us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us He never promised they would in fact to unto us the same way we would do and have done unto them. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our parts for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the reality of doing unto others without expecting anything else in return. While we have indeed been called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us we are neither promised they would do unto us as we have done to/for them we have also been called to be those who do unto others regardless of and spite of what they might have already done unto us. What’s more is this is in direct alignment with the words which Jesus would speak unto Simon called Peter in the eighteenth chapter of this same gospel when he asked the Lord how often he ought to forgive his brother. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

            “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them for this is the Law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

 

            “Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:21-27).

 

            “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14).

 

            The words we find in these passages of Scripture bring us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding our need to love others as ourselves. What we find within the first epistle written by the apostle John is not only his admonishing his readers and audience to love others as themselves but also to love others as they have been loved. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need to be those who recognize that we have not been called to love in word only but have indeed and have in fact been called to love in deed and in truth. The apostle John made it perfectly clear that we cannot say that we love the LORD our God whom we cannot and do not see while we at the same time hate our neighbor whom we do see. The apostle John makes it perfectly clear that we as the saints of God cannot truly and adequately say that we love the LORD our God whom we cannot see and yet simultaneously hate our neighbor—or even our enemy—whom we do see. In fact the apostle John seems to suggest that even our love itself can be divided if we profess that we love the LORD our God and yet hate our neighbor or our enemy. There is a reason why in the Scripture these two commandments are in fact linked and connected as the first and greatest commandment for one is the natural outworking and outgrowth of the other. If we are truly honest with ourselves and with the Holy Spirit we must needs admit the undeniable truth that we have indeed and have in fact been called to love the LORD our God with an undivided heart but we have also been called to love in general with an undivided heart.

 

            I sit here today contemplating these truths and how absolutely incredible they are and I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need for us to have and live with and undivided heart—particularly as it pertains to love. You cannot read the first epistle written by the apostle John and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the clarion call to love the LORD our God and to love our neighbor as ourselves without any division in our hearts at all. There would be those who would like to think and believe they can profess they love the LORD their God—and even to do so with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength and with all their mind—and hate their neighbor at the same time. This is something that simply is not possible for we cannot truly love the LORD our God with our whole heart and yet hate our neighbor as ourselves in this life. Those who say and profess they love the LORD their God must at the same point love their neighbor as themselves for loving others is not only an outworking and outgrowth of loving God but is also a direct manifestation of it. We love our neighbor as ourselves and even love our enemies because we have been the recipients of love from the living God. What’s more is that within the epistle written by the apostle John we not only encounter the incredible truth surrounding our loving our neighbor because the living God first loved us but we also love our neighbor as a direct manifestation, outworking and outgrowth of loving the Lord our God. There are countless men and women among us who must needs understand that we cannot and must not say that we love our neighbor as ourselves if we are not willing to love them the way we have been called and commanded to. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely necessary this truly is for it brings us face to face with the truth that those who profess they love the LORD their God and yet hate their neighbor are liars and the truth is not in them.

 

            It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the accounts found in the New Testament gospels concerning the first and greatest commandment which is indeed to love the LORD our God as well as the second commandment which is likened unto the first. I mentioned earlier that it is absolutely impossible to say we love the LORD our God whom we have not seen and hate our neighbor whom we have seen. Perhaps one of the greatest demonstrations that we love the LORD our God is indeed loving our neighbor as ourselves—and not only loving our neighbor as ourselves but even loving our enemies and those who persecute, despise and mistreat us. We demonstrate our love for the living and eternal God in a great measure when we love others—even if they do not reciprocate that love to us. I am convinced that just as Jesus instructed His disciples to do unto others as they would have them do unto them so also we must love others as we would have them love us. We have indeed been called to love others as we would want them to love us—despite the fact that Jesus never promised that we would indeed and would in fact be loved in return. If you think about it the Lord Jesus never promised us that we would receive love in return nor would even be welcomed, embraced and received by others. In fact Jesus Himself instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves and even to love our enemies while at the same time declaring unto us that we would indeed be hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake. This is something which warrants strong consideration when we think about it for while we have indeed and have in fact been called to love our neighbor as ourselves we have not been promised they would reciprocate that love toward us. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the four New Testament gospels concerning the first and greatest commandment which is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength as well as the second commandment which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages presented within the New Testament gospels:

 

            “Now behold, one came and said to Him, Good Teacher, What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? So He said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to Him, Which ones? Jesus said, You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said to Him, All these things I have kept from my youth up. What do I still lack? Jesus said to him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, Assuredly I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked at them and said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).

 

            “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing Him, and saying, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets” i(Matthew 22:34-40).

            “Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He has answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all? Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. So the scribe said to Him, Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. But after that no one dared question him” (Mark 12:28-34).

 

            “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? So he answered and said, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. And He said to him, You have answered rightly; do this and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage presented within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find this lawyer seeking to justify himself in the sight of Jesus—perhaps even in the sight of all the others who were present there on this particular occasion. Luke writes how this lawyer—in seeking to justify himself—proceeded to ask Jesus who his neighbor was. This is something we dare not and must not ignore nor treat lightly for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding Jesus’ response to him. This lawyer sought to justify himself in the sight and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in asking who his neighbor was and yet when Jesus responded to him He didn’t describe to him who his neighbor was but rather how he himself could be a neighbor unto others. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our parts for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this lawyer and how he thought that he could ask Jesus who his neighbor was and yet Jesus flipped the script and revealed unto him how he himself could and should be a neighbor unto others. This is something we dare not and must not miss for there are countless times when we would like to ask and live our lives according to who is our neighbor and who can be a neighbor unto us and yet we neglect and fail to realize that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be a neighbor.

 

            There is a famous quote that declares unto those who hear and listen to it that they ought to be the change they want to see in the world. This quote is something we must needs understand and recognize within our hearts and lives for we have indeed been called to be those who are willing to be, serve and lives as neighbors unto others. We as the saints of the living God have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who aren’t as focused on who our neighbors are but rather how we are to be and how we can be neighbors unto others within our lives. When Jesus heard this lawyer seek to justify himself by asking who his neighbor was Jesus proceeded to tell him a parable—a parable that would not answer his question on who his neighbor was but how he himself ought to be a neighbor unto others. The parable which Jesus spoke on this particular occasion was indeed the parable known as “The parable of the Good Samaritan” and is one which Jesus used to illustrate how we ought to be and how we can and should be neighbor unto others. Within this parable Jesus demonstrated two individuals—and not merely two individuals but two religious individuals—who elected not to be a neighbor to that one who was wounded, bruised, bloodied, robbed and left for dead half naked. There was a priest and a Levite who both came to the place where this one who had been robbed, beaten and left naked, bleeding and half dead and rather than act and serve as a neighbor would pass by on the other side. Coincidentally a Samaritan—one with whom Jews had no dealings—would come to the place where this wounded one was and would not only pour oil and wine in his wounds but would put him on his own beast, take him to the nearest lodge and inn, ask them to take care of him and promise to pay for whatever additional costs might be associated with his continued care. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the twenty-ninth verse of this tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the beloved physician Luke:

 

            “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? Then Jesus answered and said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you. So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, He who showed mercy on him. Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:29-37).

 

            I have to admit there is something that utterly fascinates me about this parable—namely that it doesn’t reveal the end of the story. We know the Samaritan bandaged the wounds of this one whom he found on the side of the road and we know that he poured on them oil and wine. We know the Samaritan put him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him that day. The very next day the Samaritan prepared to depart from the inn leaving this man behind in the care of that one who was over it. The Samaritan gave the innkeeper two denarii and asked him to take care of him—and not only ask him to take care of him but also promised that whatever more he needed and required to take care of him he would repay him upon his return. The parable doesn’t reveal how long it took this man to recover and to be fully and completely healed. This parable doesn’t describe this one who had been wounded, robbed and beaten leaving the inn and continuing with his daily life. What’s more is this parable doesn’t seem to reveal anything about the Samaritan and this one who had been wounded, beaten, robbed and left naked and half dead ever reunited with the Samaritan. Was this one who was wounded and bruised aware of that one who was taking care of him or was he in such a poor state that he wouldn’t come to consciousness until after the Samaritan departed? This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for this Samaritan didn’t do unto this one as was done unto him but rather what he would want done unto him. This Samaritan owed nothing to this one on the side of the road other than compassion and kindness. Oh this is something which warrants strong consideration on our parts for it brings us face to face with t he absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need to be those who do not merely love in word only but also love in deed and in truth. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James as well as the words which are found within this particular epistle written by the apostle John:

 

            “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, You sit here in a good place, and say to the poor man, you stand here, or, Sit here at my footstool, have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courses? Do not they blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:1-13).

 

            “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know. O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God. You see then, that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

 

            “IN this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down his life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is the commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 4:10-23).

 

            “If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).

 

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which Jesus Himself spoke of which are found in the four gospel narratives written by the gospel authors. If you take the time to read the four gospels you will find that while it was indeed true that Jesus called us to love our neighbor as ourself and while it was indeed true that Jesus called us to love our enemy He never promised us that we would be loved and receive love in return. Those who love others expecting to receive love back from them are going to spend their entire lives in a state of disappointment and frustration for Jesus never promised us that we would be welcomed, loved, appreciated and even received. On the contrary Jesus promised that we would in fact be despised, persecuted, mistreated, and even hated for His name’s sake. This is something warrants strong consideration on our part for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need for us as the saints of God and disciples of Christ to understand that we were promised that we would be hated of all men for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who love knowing that we will be hated, to give knowing that it might not be given back to us by others, to do good unto others knowing they might not do good unto us. In all reality we must needs love others without expecting any love back in return. True, genuine and authentic love within the heart of a disciple of Christ is a love that does not expect anything in return and simply loves because we were first loved by the living and eternal God. True love loves because it is the manifestation of our love for God and we love because we have received and been the recipients of love from the Father. Oh having said that I find it imperative to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in each of the four gospels concerning our being hated of all men for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

            “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known” (Matthew 10:21-26).

 

            “And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:4-14).

 

            “And Jesus answering them, began to say: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am He, and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginning of sorrows. But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you, and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mark 13:3-13).

 

            “Then he said to them, Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:10-19).

 

            “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:18-25).

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention and focus to the incredible reality that we as the saints of God have been called to love the LORD our God with an undivided heart. What’s more is that not only have we as the saints of God been called to love the LORD our God with an undivided heart but we must also love the LORD our God with our whole being. There must not be any division within our being when we profess our love for the one true and living God for those who say they love the LORD God must love Him with all their soul, with all their mind, with all their strength and with all their heart. What’s more is there must not be any division within our love itself for just as surely as we love the LORD our God we must also love our neighbor as ourselves. I am absolutely convinced that the love we have for our neighbor is indeed a manifestation and outworking of our love for the living and eternal God. Those who profess they love God and yet hate their neighbor are liars and deceive themselves for no one who does not love their neighbor whom they do see can say they love God whom they have not seen. What’s more is that we must needs understand and acknowledge that we have been called to love others as ourselves and must love without expecting anything in return. We must needs love others unconditionally knowing that they might not love us in return and might in fact hate us. Jesus never promised that those we did good unto would reciprocate that same goodness unto us. Jesus never promised that we would indeed be received, welcome, embraced and loved in this life. Jesus promised that we would be hated by all men for His name’s sake—something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of if we are going to truly walk with and follow Him. Oh that we would indeed be men and women who truly recognize and understand that we have been called to be those who love without restrictions, love without borders and love without hesitation or reservation. We must needs recognize that we have not been called to ask who our neighbors are and who can be a neighbor unto us but have instead been called and asked to be those who are willing to be a neighbor unto others. Are you willing to truly love even as you have been loved? Are you willing to love with an undivided heart? Are you willing to love with an undivided being? Are you willing to love your neighbor with the same love with which you have been loved by the one true and living God? What’s more is are you truly willing to minister unto the least of these and to do good unto those whom Jesus referred to as “the least of these” in His famous Olivet Discourse? Oh I leave you with those words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you? And the King will answer and away top them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me. Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into the e ear lasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger you you did not take me in, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then he will answer them, saying, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).

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