This post is part of our Community Bible Experience on the book of James. If you would like to catch up, click here to view:
Today’s Verses (From the Voice Translation):
8 Remember His call, and live by the royal law found in Scripture: love others as you love yourself.[a] You’ll be doing very well if you can get this down. 9 But if you show favoritism—paying attention to those who can help you in some way, while ignoring those who seem to need all the help—you’ll be sinning and condemned by the law.
A Few Thoughts:
Have you ever stared at a word past the point of comfortable when suddenly it makes you question everything you’ve ever known. Like all of a sudden it gets blurry and appears to be foreign and unreadable? These words, “love your neighbor as yourself” have become one of those phrases for me; its meaning numb and lifeless.
As I read James 2:8, I heard a strange voice saying, “golly mister, that mus’ be important right there. That Jesus feller keeps use’n dem words all da gosh darn time” And I thought right you are Billy Bob.
I feel like if Jesus says this is the law of the land, we better understand exactly what it means. In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes, “I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them.” THIS has become my definition of love your neighbor. I am guilty as anyone of merely going through the monotonous motions of everyday life when in fact God calls us to push past your comfort zone and jump off the edge of your complacency.
But Sam, it says NEIGHBOR, like the people who live next door. I think it’s actually much deeper that that. The basic definition of the word neighbor as a verb is: something situated next to or very near. Every person we encounter is our neighbor and is thus a chance to spread God’s love and kindness. From the angry manager at Wal-Mart to the woman next to us on the bus to the man at the stop sign holding a plea for assistance.
I know I miss incredible opportunities each and every day because I forget to slow down and notice the people God has placed in front of me. How many chances do we miss to love people because we’re buried in our phones or racing from one activity to the next?
We can only change when we remind ourselves that every single person is made in the image of God. Every single person has the power of Christ within them. Every single person has a story, a past, and is loved by our gracious and unfathomable God.
We know our Father doesn’t judge anyone by appearance, race, gender, social status, wealth, position, criminal background and that is what he expects from us. In my research I found out the word favoritism originally meant “receiving according to face.” Here in verse 9, James labels that a sin. Racism, a sin? Sexism, a sin? You bet. We’re called to love. That’s it. Love God and love those around you.
Finding our way means resisting any temptation to judge or condemn those around us who aren’t “following the rules.” We have to shift our view of the world from fear to embrace, from what can you do for me to what can I do for you, from look at his clothes to look at his heart.
Every day is a chance to love. Will you have eyes to see?
A Few Questions:
1.) What do you think of when you read “love your neighbor as yourself?” What does this phrase mean in our every day lives? Do you know anyone who lives this out? What actions do they take to do that?
2.) What biases do you feel towards a group of God’s people? What can you do to move towards a group of people that intimidates you or you feel judgement against?
3.) Why is it so hard to live out this call to love our neighbor? What gets in the way? What is one way you can love your neighbor better today?
What a treacherous world this is – full of danger and corruption, violence and chaos. Oh how safe I would feel to hibernate under a warm blanket and a steaming cup of tea each day. Yet, this has never been the plan for your people. You call us to go out into the darkness and spread your light. You challenge us to love the unlovable so that we may invoke change in the world and in our own hearts.
God, as we go about our day together, jolt me awake to the souls I have been missing. Move me to share a kind word with a stranger whom I would normally miss. Help me notice an opportunity to serve someone who is in desperate need of a glimpse of your affection. Transform me to be an agent of change in a world that is obsessed with appearances and differences so I may be your unifying force of love wherever your path takes me.
Thank you for showing me the way God to a better and fuller life. As I stumble and fall back into old habits, shower your grace and love upon me as you always do, continuously encouraging me to never give up this crazy beautiful fight to become more like your son.
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