Romans 13:8-14 (ESV)
Fulfilling the Law Through Love
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
I used to laugh at my sister who seemed to be addicted to the Weather Channel. The station was always on her kitchen tv. Then came Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy and I too became addicted to the Weather Channel. So it is no surprise that these past couple of weeks I’ve found myself once again glued to the tv watching Hurricane Harvey and impending Hurricane Irma.
However, from this catastrophic destruction, images of “loving your neighbor” have been evident on all the channels. People from across the United States and Mexico traveled to Texas with jet skis and boats to aid their neighbors. The kind of destruction and complete uprooting of these people’s lives is almost unimaginable. But why does it take a catastrophe for some of us to offer a helping hand?
There’s something even more unsettling in all of this. Does it seem that we can help someone we don’t know more easily than it is to help someone we see face-to-face? I admit that it is for me.
What’s the variable? It’s being in relationship. For the person I see on the street who may be in need, I may look away, because I don’t really want to be in relationship with that individual. And what about my neighbor next door. I think he’s intruding in my life, always coming over as soon as I pull into my drive. I’ve been avoiding him for a month, even sneaking out after dark to get my mail. But I can make a donation to someone I’ve never seen and never will see and pat myself on the back, thinking how generous I’ve been. Shame on me.
Lord Jesus, throughout your teachings you tell us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us be generous in our love, just as you are generous in your love to us. Help me to love my neighbors, near, far, and next door. In your name we pray, Amen.
Written by Sue Hamilton—Director of Music Ministries firstname.lastname@example.org