Love Your Neighbor

We’ve learned that love has conditions. I’ll love you if you let me hang with the boys this weekend. The world defines love as being based on something. I love you because you’re such a good husband. 

There are three words in the New Testament that are used for love: eros, phileo, and agapeErosis a romantic love where the focus is on personal happiness. Phileo is a brotherly love that we offer most people and is focused on “our” happiness.  Agape love has no conditions; is limitless. Agape love is the only love that God commands of us have for each other. It is the love that can be the most difficult to give, because oftentimes there is little return for a fleshy desire.

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Paul writes in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love [Agape love] your neighbor as yourself.’” 

The Greek word for neighbor is geiton and it means “one living in the same land.” The adjective of this word is plesion and it means “near.” It kind of has this urban tone to it, doesn’t it?

So how does this look in our culture? Who is your neighbor? Who is in the same land, who is near? 

If we take into consideration the meaning of these two Greek words, it’s not just our family, our neighborhood or street.  It’s our city and our county.  That’s our neighbor.

I remember a number of years ago hearing someone say, “We have become garage door communities.” We drive up, ignoring our neighbor next door working in the yard, pull our car in the garage and shut the door as quickly as possible, hoping the neighbor is not following shortly behind. When I didn’t have a garage, I shamefully admit that I have acted as if I were on my phone, hoping my neighbor would not bother me before I could get into my house and shut the door behind me. We have adopted this mentality in public as well, avoiding people that want connection and looking the other way when we see a need. 

We do this because it’s hard to love, especially people that we don’t truly care for, and we subconsciously think, “There is no return here; there is nothing in it for me.” This is anti-gospel. This mindset is far from the precept of Galatians 5:14. It’s far from Jesus.

We must declare war on this mindset. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul reminds you and me that “you do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.” We belong to him, our time is His time, our possessions, His, our money, His, and our love from His love. I would simply say that we ask God, “My Lord, I want your love to be my love. Guide me God, as I am selfish, conditional, and mostly unwilling. Only because of you and from You, I can love like you.” 

Let’s do this!

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Hope

Google defines hope as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a person or thing that may hope or save someone, grounds for believing that something good may happen, or a feeling of trust. When I read the definition, every bit of what I love and believe about God tells me that He epitomizes this definition, and I’ll go as far as to say that it points to Him as the author.

Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

I could write a book just on these three verses as they are packed full of wisdom and a deep love for the follower of Christ. I have had many seasons in my life where I’ve walked through this text. Some seasons lasted longer than others, and all were met with their own measure of pain, but not until my early thirties did I realize how much love pours from hope! 

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After months of praying, reading the word, and begging God for some sort of response, a breakthrough came.  After seventy-two hours of sleeplessness, I reached the lowest point I had been in a long time.  I was desperate for help and realized I could no longer live life independent of God. Through His word, God spoke to my soul, “I am strong for you, and I will meet all your needs.” (from Philippians and 2 Corinthians

God gave me hope from the least expected method: discipline.  I am grateful that God loves me enough to allow me to go through a Romans 5 season. He does this because He loves, and His love gives me unmatchable hope!

God is always in front of me, now matter how deep the depression or dark the night.  Even more, because of His love and the work of Christ on the cross, the hope of God is IN me. I am loved and that love seals my hope!