“Intentional Living” & Love your neighbor as yourself.

“If you want to be successful, you need to every day: value people, belief in people & unconditionally love people. If you do these three things every day, you will not only be successful in life, but you will have a life of significance.” – Advice John C. Maxwell got from his dad.

As I was listening to a broadcast on his book “Intentional Living” by John C. Maxwell, it was this advice that stood out to me most. We all want to live a life of significance. But though this advice seems simple enough, I know from my own life that it can be very hard to do all of these things every day. Some days we are too busy, at others too resentful, too lazy, too … Whatever it is, there can be a lot of things standing in our way of truly valuing people, believing in them and loving them unconditionally.

Yet, this is exactly what God does for us every single day, and He too has asked us to do so for others, though with slightly different words.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all you mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” is the correct summary of the law the law-expert gives to Jesus in Luke 10:27.

Our love for others flows from the love we have for God, and out of the love that He has shown us. By reading the Bible, we can be reminded of this. But the Bible also challenges us to love people who we may rather not “value, belief in & love unconditionally.”

    

One specific group that God calls the Israelites to love is foreigners living among them.

Deuteronomy 10:19 says: “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Even more, Leviticus 19:34 says: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

This must not have been an easy task for the Israelites, even at the time that God spoke these words to them and it became more severely tested in the time that the Samaritan’s lived among them. The Samaritan’s were Israel’s natural enemies. And yet, when the expert of the law asks Jesus “who is my neighbor,” in Luke 10: 29b, Jesus answers in the form of a story that shows the Samaritan’s are indeed to be loved as their neighbors. (Luke 10:25-37 – The Parable of the Good Samaritan)

Who are your neighbors? Who are our neighbors? Have we justified anyone to be excluded from God’s command to love others as ourselves? Perhaps someone who has wronged us? Or perhaps, like the Israelites in Jesus time, we have a hard time loving the foreigners that seek refuge in our country?

Whatever it is, God can help us. He is an expert in loving those who hated Him. He even died for them. And on Christmas, we again celebrate the fact that Jesus came to live with those who loved and with those who hated Him; calling all of them back to the Love of the Father. Who can we share this news with this Holiday season? Who can we value, belief in & love in ways that we may never have before?

Ask God to challenge you. And I am sure that you will find both value and significance. Good luck!

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