Romans 13:8–10 (NKJV)
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
This command sums up everything because God’s glory is the purpose of everything. Our main job as Christians is to glorify God. That’s why it’s first in the Westminster Confession of Faith Shorter Catechism.
- “What is the chief end of man?”
A. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
The command to love our neighbors has become our brand. It defines us in the eyes of the public. It’s the best known way that we glorify God.
So, if we’re going to take this seriously, we need to think about how to do this well. Paul didn’t say it would be easy. How can we best love our neighbors?
This is more about the mind than the heart. Love here means, as Olaf said in the movie Frozen, “putting someone else’s needs before yours.” OK, so what’s the secret to doing that well?
Learn what their needs are. That takes connection. The secret sauce for loving your neighbor is befriending them. To be the kind of neighbor who glorifies God, you must get to know the people you are trying to love. You find out what their needs are by listening to them talk about their lives.
Love is a listening skill.
“How can I pray for you?” Few lines are as important to the task of loving our neighbors as this one. It opens people up. They almost always come up with something, and it may be deep.
But if this is just a line, they’ll soon see that it’s all phony. There are two important ways to prevent that. First, pray right then. Don’t just promise to pray later. I know I forget all too often.
Second, take notes. I don’t just forget to pray; I even forget what the prayer request was. When writing down prayers, be sure to get everything right, including the spelling. This shows that you take their requests seriously—plus it sets up future conversations. That makes the kind of caring connections that bring glory to God and can even prepare the soil for the gospel.
We are called to do more than just care for our neighbors; we’re called to care about our neighbors. This takes us back to Romans 12:15—Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (NKJV)
Love can’t be faked.
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