“Into Good” ( Romans 15: 2, WYC ) by Carley Evans

English: Floodwaters isolate neighbours across...
English: Floodwaters isolate neighbours across the street at Bayswater, Milton, 1890. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul and Jesus speak often of brothers, but also of neighbours. Brothers, I presume, are fellow believers. Neighbours may or may not be Christians. Yet, Paul writes to the church at Rome:

Each of us please to his neighbour in good [into good], to edification.”

So we are to please our neighbours — whether or not they are believers — and we are to please them “into good, to edification.” We are called “to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge;” to “uplift, enlighten, and inform.” Edification implies speaking to our neighbours, but I speak little to most of my neighbours. How about you?

I know the family to my left very well. The house behind me — I see them once in a blue moon in their yard. The people on my right, I wave to and speak with on occasion. The couple across from me — now and then. One house on my street stands completely empty – a sign of the economic times. I just met the man at the very end of my street, and I’ve lived here more than fifteen years! My neighbours are essentially strangers with the exception of the three men next door: an elderly man and his two grown sons. I eat with them often!

But, do I edify them?

“Here Is The Test” (1 John 2: 3, NEB) by Carley Evans

What are God’s commands? Are they difficult?

Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Then He tells us to take up our crosses and follow Him, denying ourselves daily. He reminds us that once we put our hand to the kingdom we must not look back at our past — either in longing or regret.

Jesus commands us to love the Lord our God with all our being — our hearts, our minds, our bodies — and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

The author of 1 John writes, “Here is the test by which we can make sure that we know Him: do we keep His commands? The man who says, ‘I know Him’, while he disobeys His commands, is a liar and a stranger to the truth; but in the man who is obedient to His Word, the divine Love has indeed come to its perfection.” (1 John 2: 3 – 5)

And, he writes that “here is the test by which we can make sure that we are in Him: whoever claims to be dwelling in Him, binds himself to live as Christ Himself lived.” (1 John 2: 6)

What is the command we are to follow? We are to “love [our] brother,” so “there is nothing to make [us] stumble.” (1 John 2: 10 – 11) Nothing is able to make us stumble as we commit to live as Christ lived.

Live a life of love, and so make sure you are dwelling in Christ.

“Love Covers Sins” (Matthew 22: 37 – 39, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells us the first and greatest command is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is like it; that command is to love your neighbor as yourself.

All the Law and the Prophets depend upon these two great commands of God; and both find their basis in love: love of God, love of others.

Obviously, Jesus loves His Father enough to obey Him, sacrificing His own human life for the purpose of God — that is our salvation: redemption, sanctification, glorification. Jesus often speaks of loving His friends enough to die for them. And, after speaking of this, He does indeed die for them and for us.

Your neighbor may be friend, may be enemy — but, you are commanded to love him whichever way he treats you. Your love of neighbor is a small reflection of the love which Jesus pours out on you. Your love of God the Father is tiny in measure when compared to Jesus’ love of His Father.

Love does no harm; and does not push its own way. “Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4: 8)