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SermonYou Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
An all-creatures Bible Message

You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
23 February 2014
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Leviticus 19:18
Psalm 119:33-40
Mark 12:28-31
I Corinthians 3:10-23

The commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is a vital ingredient in our relationship with others, and its principle should extend to the whole of creation, for we should consider every other human being and every animal to be our neighbor.
 
In Mark 12:28-31 we are told about Jesus having an argument with someone and how He responded. Let’s listen in…

28. And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?"
 
29. Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 
 
30. and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
 
31. "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
NASB

The commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” comes from Leviticus 19:18:

18. 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
NASB

We hear a lot about loving our neighbor, but relatively little about not taking revenge or bearing any grudge, and yet it is part of the same sentence that tells us “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
 
In fact, the way it’s presented, it is a vital part of loving your neighbor; and remember, if we are children of God, then our neighbors must include all other living beings, both human and animal, for we were all created as living souls by the same loving God.
 
Now, let’s think back to our discussion in last week’s sermon about the vengeance “law” about an eye for an eye which Jesus countered.
 
Yet here in Leviticus 19:18, we see that these vengeance “laws” are being rejected.
 
Perhaps they were never a part of the Law; and Jesus, without specifically referring to this verse, was actually referring to its compassionate meaning.
 
Let’s look at an example:
 
“K,” a Christian / animal rights person, writes to us frequently, telling us about her relationships with others. She wrote:

“Hello Frank and Mary,

A few nights ago, we had an apartment fire in town. There was one casualty and one person was hospitalized.
 
Well, yesterday and today I have been working with the lady who was hospitalized. She was really dark, full of smoke. Her eyes were bandaged because they hurt so much. She barely made it out alive, had to be rescued by firefighters.
 
Then I found out that she also has terminal lung cancer and is already in hospice care (in her home).  To make matters worse, her cat did not make it in the fire. She was devastated.
 
So yesterday I noticed that she was holding a little Buddha in her hands and also some reading materials that led me to believe that she was somewhat of a spiritual person. So I grabbed the chance and told her about you and Mary, about your/our compassionate diet and how that has strengthened my spirituality and my relationship with God.
 
The beautiful part is that despite everything she is going through, she decided right there and then that she wants to become a Vegan. (You know how that goes, when people are dependent on others, it is hard to do but it is the beautiful sentiment in this case that is important).
 
So today I am working with her again and she did not forget. She calls it her "new way of life."
 
So I warmed some of my lentil veggie soup for her to try (she admitted that she does not know where to start, so I wanted her to get a taste...I am not supposed to do that here :))”

It is obvious that “K” considers this woman to be her neighbor, and so she sees past their difference in religion and lifestyle to share the love of God with her in a very unthreatening way.
 
“K” is living the true meaning of “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” as we all should.
 
In Psalm 119:33-40, we see more about observing and following God’s statutes, law and commandments that we talked about last week.
 
The main thing that we need to remember is that we have to weigh these laws and commandments against the heavenly will of God and the teachings of Jesus.
 
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the psalm:

33. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

This is exactly what Jesus was doing, and His teachings that are recorded in the Bible are still doing.

34. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law,
And keep it with all my heart.

If we understand the loving and compassionate way that Jesus teaches us, then we should have no problem understanding in which commandments to delight.

35. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments,
For I delight in it.
 
36. Incline my heart to Thy testimonies,
And not to dishonest gain.
 
37. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Thy ways.

If we are truly living in the heavenly will of God, we will never do these things, and if we inadvertently do them, we will catch ourselves right away, and turn away from the worldly evil.

38. Establish Thy word to Thy servant,
As that which produces reverence for Thee.
 
39. Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Thine ordinances are good.
 
40. Behold, I long for Thy precepts;
Revive me through Thy righteousness.
NASB

If we just remember the second greatest commandment “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and that our true neighbors are every other person and all the animals, then we will naturally live in the heavenly will of God, for we would never think of doing any harm to any other living being.
 
Why? Because if we don’t want any horrible things to happen to us, we wouldn’t think of inflicting them on anyone else.
 
As we read 1 Corinthians 3:10-23, let’s keep in mind the heavenly relationship between ourselves and our neighbors in “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” which is really another way of expressing the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

10. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.
 
11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We believe that the main points that Paul is making here are that we must build upon the teachings of Jesus, and upon who He is.
 
In order to do this, we must be living in the heavenly will of God.

12. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
 
13. each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

If the fire is hot enough, it will burn up everything that Paul is mentioning; the imperishable building materials are spiritual in nature and they will last forever, such as love, compassion, and being a peacemaking child of God.
 
And in the process, we will find that we are helping to free creation from its present corruption, and leading others to the Lord.

14. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.
 
15. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

This only applies if the person Paul is talking about is a true believer.
 
Now, let’s look at who we are in Christ Jesus, or who we are supposed to be.

16. Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
 
17. If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

Or, what we are supposed to be.
 
Does this also tell us why Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”?
 
If we cannot destroy ourselves, then we certainly couldn’t bring harm upon any other human being or animal.

18. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise.
 
19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness";
 
20. and again, "The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless."

Worldly wisdom is what caused the world to become so corrupt with all its pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death.

21. So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you,
 
22. whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you,
 
23. and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
NASB

Yes, if all these things belong to us, then we have been given a tremendous responsibility to live in God’s heavenly will here on earth as it is in heaven.
 
And, if we do, we will naturally live the meaning of “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
 
Amen.

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