Jesus said, “love your neighbor,” Mark 12:31, yet we pick and chose who will get our respect, who we will honor, and who we love. We chose the rich, the popular, the seemingly successful. They get our attention. They get our listening ears. They get our respect. They influence our lives. They may even get our wallets.
We pick and chose and we get it wrong. But we are not meant to pick and chose at all. God does not show favor to the rich over the poor, Job 34:19. He shows no favoritism at all, Acts 10:34. God is not partial, Galatians 2:6. James 2:9 says, if we show favoritism, we sin!
We are supposed to love everyone, no matter who they are. We are all the work of God’s hands. God places immeasurable worth on every person. There is not one person who escapes His all-seeing, all-loving eyes.
A glaring truth about our own spiritual maturity: How, and to who, we show respect, honor, and love is the measure of our spiritual maturity. Period. Only our unrestrained, unlimited, unprejudiced love is the mark of our maturity. And this cannot be faked.
Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with our giftings, titles, or our great ability to communicate. It’s not in the hundreds of miracles performed, or our ability to prophesy. All these can be done with a heart attitude that dishonors, disrespects, and even withholds love. Believe it or not, but God’s gives (these) gifts to people and doesn’t take them back, Romans 11:29. Operating these gifts and spiritual maturity are independent of each other. I wish it wasn’t so, because we are all too easily impressed by gifts, and often miss the much weighted thing, love.
If we disrespect, dishonor, withhold love from people, based upon our personal choice, we will turn people away from the Gospel and make people think relationships in church are broken and dysfunctional; in this case they are.
But, show respect, give honor, love people, especially to those who have no way of giving back, and we open people up to the gospel like never before. Why? Because it is so rare.
When our own hearts have been radical transformed by God’s love, we will in turn love every person around us.
Love is what changes hearts. God is love, 1John 4:8.