The Ten Commandments are the basic foundation of law and morality. But you can really boil them down to just two. In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus is asked a question, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus answered: Love God. Love your neighbor. He then states that all the law hangs on these two commandments. The Ten Commandments boil down to these two. This means that love for God and our neighbor is the foundation of all morality.
Ex.--A man who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength will never take God’s name in vain. He will never place anything above God in his affections. He will remember the Lord’s Day and keep it holy.
If you love your neighbor as yourself, you won’t lie to him. You won’t steal his possessions. You won’t cheat him in business. You won’t violate his marriage. When you love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll never do anything to intentionally hurt him. If you love others, you won’t take their life, and that includes if they reside in your belly!
These elements are increasingly rare in our society. We tend to live with an attitude of extreme privacy these days…living like we’re on a remote island, though only separated from others by a few yards! Our society increasingly acts as if men owe nothing to their neighbors. We think only of our own lives, ignoring the needs of others.
Story of David Cash—A few years ago, Cash and a friend, Jeremy Strohmeyer, were in Las Vegas. Strohmeyer followed 7 year old Sherrice Iverson into a bathroom and began to physically assault her. Cash came upon the scene, made a half-hearted attempt to intervene, and then left the girl to her fate. Not only did he fail to stop the assault, he also chose not to report it.
On their way home that night, Strohmeyer told Cash he had raped and killed the little girl. Still, Cash kept quiet. Police finally caught up with Strohmeyer and he pleaded guilty to all charges. Cash is off the hook. Nevada has no law requiring people to report a crime.
This story has appalled and outraged many Americans. But in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Cash defended his non-involvement. Without a trace of remorse, he said, "I'm not going to get upset over someone else's life . . . I just worry about myself first. I don't think of it. I didn't know her."
This morning I want us to consider what it means to love God and love our neighbor because all moral responsibility hinges on these two affections.
I. Love for God
God isn’t just someone we worship and serve. He’s someone we know. We can have an intimate relationship with Him. He has shared his life with us. We love Him as we love any other person.
We don’t have to be afraid to be ourselves when we are worshipping and communicating with God. We need not worry about what others are thinking. We don’t have to put on a mask, or assume a false character when we come into God’s presence.
God wants to change our lives, but He can’t do that until we are honest about what’s inside. How can He remove a fear if we won’t admit to it? How can He deliver us from bitterness or lust if we deny it? Not until we come to God as we are will we have the opportunity to leave differently than we came. That’s why we don’t just stand still at invitation time. That says, I’m fine, none of this sermon applied to me…I have arrived!
I know God loves me because of Calvary. There, God made the supreme sacrifice of love – His very life.
"I asked God how much He loved me. Stretching His arms wide, He said, ‘This much.’ And He died."
Jesus loved us to death – to the death of the cross. That’s what Calvary is all about. It shows us how far that God in love was willing to go to save a sinner. He deserves to be loved w/ all our strength!
This statement helps us avoid extremes. It keeps us balanced.
Jesus is reminding us that we are to love God the same way He loves us. We must not respond to God’s whole-hearted love in a half-hearted manner. We are to love Him with ALL the heart, ALL the soul, ALL the strength, and ALL the mind.
I think Jesus is also telling us that until you love God as you should, you will never love your ‘others’ as you could. I think that is born out in our own experience, for as our nation has become more secular, it has also become less sensitive. The Bible says in the last days the love of many shall wax cold. The more we learn about the love of God, the greater our capacity to love others.
II. Love for Others
If I were to ask you how you are to love your neighbor, probably all of us could give the right answer: you are to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Great, but what does it mean?
Let’s keep it simple. Loving your neighbor means that you do for him whatever you would do for yourself.
We don’t have to be taught how to love ourselves. It comes naturally. We are experts at it. The trick is to keep our self-love from becoming selfishness. We need to be constantly reminded that as we love ourselves, so we are to love others.
This good Samaritan passage is one of the most familiar parables in the Bible. It doesn’t need a lot of explanation.
The parable begins with just a certain man. A lot of things we consider important are not mentioned. We are not given his name or his standing in society. As far as we know, he could have been a thief who fell victim to other thieves! The only thing we know about him is that the hand life dealt him at that moment left him alone and in need.
Let me ask a couple of questions. Do you find yourself judging the worth of a man before you decide whether you are going to help him? Do you only feel comfortable helping those who are just like you? Do you let the color of their skin, the length of their hair or the style of their clothing determine to whom you will love as you love yourself? Tats? Piercings?
The difference in the three men is that one had his feelings touched, and he responded to those feelings. But what if people take advantage of our kindness? What if they don’t appreciate what we do? It doesn’t matter. Read the parable again. There is no mention of the victim’s response to the kindness of the Samaritan. Why? Because loving your neighbor isn’t contingent on his sense of appreciation. We’re to have a Nike kind of love – "Just do it."
It’s not enough to be concerned. It’s not enough to feel compassion. You have to get involved. You have to get a little blood on your toga and dirt on your kneecaps. You have to invest some of your time and give of your treasures. You have to do whatever it takes to take care of your neighbor … just as you do whatever it takes to take care of yourself.
The proof of God’s love is the payment Christ made for sin.
We may not be able to expect this kind of love from the lost, but it is what the world needs from us, and how they know we are real.
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