How then should you love your neighbor?

From last week’s post (Who is my neighbor?), let’s now take a look at how then we should love our neighbors.

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Last time, we were able to identify our neighbor in the commandment, “love your neighbor as you love yourself”.  In this post, let us take a look at the weight of love that we ought to give our neighbors by looking again to the very words of Jesus.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

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Who is my neighbor?

“Love your neighbor as yourself”…so who is my neighbor?

Sequel to “Revisiting the Two Greatest Commandments

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To recap last week’s introductory post for our “love talk” series, here’s a photo verse that says it all:

1 John 4:20-21 Illustration by Lara Harwood – www.laraharwood.co.uk

36 “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and the most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ 40 The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:36-40

In marketing, you cannot meet your goals if you do not know your target market.  As Christians, our goal is to obey God’s commandments.  So he said, love the Lord, and love your neighbor.  In the first command, it’s quite easy to point who should be the…

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Revisiting the two greatest commandments

If we love God, we ought to love others. Let us revisit the two greatest commandments. This is my latest blog post for Christian Tagalog Blogs section in ChristianBlessings (08/30/2014) 🙂

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Let’s start our “love talk” series by first revisiting the two greatest commandments in the Bible.  We’ve heard about it many times in Sunday sermons or perhaps in Bible study.  But let us see what else can we extr
act from it and how else can we show our obedience by practically applying it in our lives.  I must admit, the insights I would share with you in this post are triggered by my partner in our Praise and Worship Team (Jake, who I know is just out there, reading some materials about humanity/theology/music/anything under the sun). Jake is currently studying in a seminary and taking up Theology.  He’s very passionate about learning Christ’s life here on earth, his connection with humanity and society, and how we ought to live like him.

The two greatest commandments:

36 “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus answered…

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Guilt, Grace : Driving wheels of Gratitude

Let’s talk about 3G connection. (Guilt, Grace, Gratitude)
Here’s my Saturday post on ChristianBlessings – Christian Filipino Blog. 🙂
God bless!

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Last Saturday, we talked about practicing the attitude of Gratitude, and one of the tips we can apply is to keep a gratitude list (see previous post).  This time, let us look back and find out what motivates us to give thanks, or the reason for living our lives full of gratefulness to our Lord.  Again, this is not new to us I’m sure.  You most probably know this, primarily because you have gone through it all.  It’s just that, maybe to some, it hasn’t been presented with this easy outline: 3G (Guilt, Grace, Gratitude).

Guilt, Grace, Gratitude image source: gratisography.com

I first heard this concept in one of the session of Doctrines of Grace in our church.  Then eventually, as our pastor embeds this outline once in a while in his sermons, and now in our sessions of Heidelberg Catechism, my understanding of it has grown deeper.  I come to appreciate it more and…

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The ‘c’ in Christian submission

In my recent post, Christians spell SUBMISSION with an ‘h’ and a ‘c’, I first discussed the ‘h’ – HUMILITY.  It takes humility to submit.  We should deny ourselves, swallow our pride, and acknowledge that the Lord has full dominion over us and over all the things on earth and in heaven.  I cited Jesus as the perfect example for both submission and humility.  Now, we won’t change our model for ‘c’ – courage.  Let us now complete the thesis:

It takes humility to submit; and it takes courage to humble oneself.

Why courage?  Have you thought of an instance when you needed courage to humble yourself? Or to be more specific, can you recall a time in your life when you thought that your self-made plans would go smoothly and would be for the best? but then, God poked you and asked you to follow His direction, instead of yours?

Let us admit it.  Humbling ourselves is sometimes painful.  We are too proud.  We even say to the Lord, “Show me first what will happen if I obey you; then I’ll see if I’ll obey.”  But the Lord is telling us “Obey me first, then I will show you what will happen.”

Our pastor’s wife shared us her testimony of one of the crossroads in her life: career.  She was then working with a Christian company, holding a high position, and was nearly expecting for promotion to the next higher rank.  But the Lord suddenly spoke to her through her devotions that there was something else God would want her to do.  God wanted her to leave the company and transfer to another.  At first, she was really confused and frustrated because she already had plans well mapped out in her mind.  But the Lord did not stop speaking to her.  It took 2 years for her to follow.  She was really afraid at first because she it wasn’t that clear to her where God would lead her, but she eventually followed. God used her in ways she never expected.

Now, let us see the perfect example of courage – Jesus! When his time was near, he prayed to the Lord at the garden of Gethsemane.  His prayer goes like this:

…he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”…for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”…he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. – Matthew 26:39, 42, 44

Jesus prays in Gethsemane

Jesus prays in Gethsemane

 

We can see here that even Jesus felt fear of what was waiting for him – death on the cross.  In the earlier verse, it was even stated that he was “distressed and troubled”.  It was too painful to bear, so he appealed to God the Father in a form of intense prayer.  The ‘cup’ he was referring to was the wrath of God.  God would pour out His wrath for mankind on His only Son Jesus, and the plan was irreversible (see Psalm 75:8).  Jesus knew from the beginning that it’s impossible not to die on the cross.  But, he took courage to humble himself to the Lord.  He took courage to submit to His will by saying “not my will, but your will”.  He took courage to face God’s grand plan for salvation – the cross.

This leads me to remembering the post that triggered me to add ‘courage’ in Christian submission.  Last week, I stumbled upon the blog post, Pray for Christians in Iraq.  We know what has been going around there because of the rule of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Our brothers and sisters in Christ are literally suffering from persecutions, physical assault, and all the most inhumane things we could ever imagine.  Since the takeover of the city of Mosul, the militant group has given Christians an ultimatum: Convert, Flee, or Die.  So we assume that those they killed were the ones who refused to convert and flee.  They stood by their faith till death.  They knew that they could be killed, nevertheless, they chose death over conversion.

It is hard to say that this is part of God’s plan.  But as far as we can see, it is, primarily because it happened.  Nothing happens in this world without God knowing it or without God allowing it.  But one thing’s for sure, one thing we know: He knows what He is doing.  He is our mighty, sovereign God.  For those who have been persecuted and killed for the sake of His name, great is the reward that awaits them in eternity.  What really struck me was their humility and courage to submit, NOT to the ISIS militants, but to the Lord.  They did not kneel before other gods.  They fought for their faith.

If we look into our own lives, of course there are areas that we find difficult to submit to the Lord.  But let us be encouraged with the example of Jesus Christ and of today’s Christian martyrs, they submitted to the Lord even to death.

How far can we go in submitting our lives to the Lord?

Jesus obeyed - even death on the cross


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Christians spell SUBMISSION with an ‘h’ and a ‘c’

Last time, I posted about the idea of submission to the Lord’s will, and how and why it is hard, specifically for women, to do so.  At the end of my post, I promised that I’ll be writing a sequel to that, tackling what attitudes we must develop in order to do the act of submission. So here it is. (so I hope this clarifies that you shouldn’t take the title literally that you’d spell ‘submission’as ‘submishon’ or ‘submischion’..what?!)

The other day, I thought of just writing the ‘h’ attitude.  But just yesterday morning, I stumbled upon a post so moving that it triggered me to add the ‘c’ (But I’d reserve the latter for my next post).  So the thesis is, “It takes h_________ to submit; and it takes c________ to h______ oneself.”

So much for the guessing game (I don’t have prizes for that anyway, LOL).  The first attitude we need to have is something that may cost us our sense of self.  We are naturally proud and self-centered.  We take care so much of our ego.  As much as possible, we want to assert our rights and capability to do things our own way.  So with this nature, how can we submit?  Is it really possible for us to submit?

In my previous post, I cited Jesus Christ as the perfect example of the act of submission when he fulfilled the Lord’s plan of salvation to mankind.  Now, for the ‘h’ attitude, I won’t change my example.  It is actually found on the last verse cited on my earlier post.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name… – Philippians 2:8-9

It takes humility to submit.  I consulted my ever-reliable friend Merriam-Webster on what it has to say about that word.  It says:

hu·mil·i·ty

noun \hyü-ˈmi-lə-tē, yü-\: the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people

Dory works as a teacher.  Despite her rich education background (graduate of two MA degrees here and abroad, got high ratings at the Teacher’s Licensure Exam), she hasn’t risen from the ranks since she got into teaching.  Here’s why.  In all education institutions she applied in, she wouldn’t submit to the assigned school principal or institution’s dean because she always thought she’s better than all of them or that she can perform better than they do.  As a result, she’d always end up resigning and applying for other institutions.  One of her colleagues in her first school, Mara, has always shown respect for her superiors and submitted to the institution’s policies and guidelines in teaching.  Promotions came her way easily and she is now a school dean.

If we’re like Dory and think we are better than God, we’ll probably end up like her–we won’t be able to submit.  We’ll always find ways to prove that we think better, we decide better.  And if God proves us wrong, like Dory, we’ll keep searching for affirmation from somewhere or someone else.  Pride will just lead us to a downward spiral.  Whereas, if we adopt Mara’s attitude of humility, and submission to the Lord’s will, He will take care of everything else.  Surely, blessings will come when God fulfills His plans for us.  Remember this passage?

Jesus washes his disciples' feet

In one scenario in Matthew, Jesus taught his disciples the virtue of humility in this:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” So Jesus called a child to come and stand in front of them, and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me. ~ Matthew 18:1-5

Have we thought of how vital humility is in entering the Kingdom of God?  Come to think of it, if we do not humble ourselves like a child, we won’t be able to acknowledge that there is Someone greater out there…Someone who rules over us and Someone who holds the blueprint of our lives.  And for this, we won’t be able to accept Jesus as Lord and King of our lives.  If we’re also not humble, we won’t follow orders.  We will be hard-headed.  Think of the children and observe their ways.  They easily follow.  They have teachable hearts, and they don’t complain when their parents direct them or ask them to do something.  Try to recall your ‘humility moments’ when you were a child.

Jesus wants us to be as humble as children.  Thank God because when He gave us His Spirit and made us born-again, he turned our prideful hearts into humble hearts (Ezekiel 11:19-20).  He enabled us to accept that we are sinners and to realize that we need Him to save us, and that we cannot live our lives on our own.  He enabled us to enter His Kingdom by humbling us.

Let us keep on practicing this virtue so we may continually submit to Him.  It’s easier said than done.  There are instances when humility costs so much pain.  We need the ‘c’ to do so.

In my next post, let us find out why it takes courage to humble oneself.


Related blog posts: Submit to One Another Part 1Submit to One Another Part 2, True Humility