Love your neighbor

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Jesus said, “love your neighbor,” Mark 12:31, and yet so many of us pick and choose who gets our respect, who we honor, who we love.

Too often, we choose the rich, the popular, the favorite pop-culture-icon, the seemingly successful. These people get our attention. They get our listening ears. They get our respect. They influence our lives. They may get our wallets. And we even do this in church. We pick and choose and we get it wrong. Very wrong.

We are not meant to pick and choose at all. God does not show favor to the rich over the poor, Job 34:19. God does not show favoritism (or) God is no respecter of persons Acts 10:34 (NIV/ASV). God is not partial, Galatians 2:6. And James 2:9 says, if we show favoritism, we sin… 

A glaring truth about our own spiritual maturity: 

How and to whom we show respect, honor, and love is a measure of our spiritual maturity.

If we pick and choose, show respect to some but not others, we show we are not that spiritual. Instead, we are following after the world system that looks at all the externals.

The externals are the huge bank account, the beautiful, the trendy, the position, the title, the achievements. Externals are also spiritual gifts, to prophesy, abilities given to communicate, perform miracles. All these can be done while we are dishonoring, disrespecting, and even withholding love from people. Believe it or not, but, God gives gifts to people and doesn’t take them back, Romans 11:29. So a person can exercise all manner of spiritual gifts, but not really love people. This is a scary truth, and one reason we are so easily misled when looking at externals.

If we pick and choose who gets our respect, honor, and love based upon personal choice or external measures, we turn people away from the Gospel and we give people the view that relationships in church are broken and dysfunctional; in this case they are.

But when we show respect, honor, and love to people when they haven’t done anything to deserve it–possibly can’t even give it back–it opens people up to the Gospel and healthy relationship. Why? Because it is so rare. Love like this is so rare, but this is the way God loves us, and it is the way He wants His love to be demonstrated through us, God is love, 1John 4:8.

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 and loving eyes. There is not one person more deserving of His love. Nor is there any person less deserving. God has dignified every one of us. God is the One who places great value upon us and calls us His precious-beloved child. God shows extreme honor to us by making our heart His home–something none of us deserve, but God does this because of His extreme love for us.