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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

April 8, 2016

Our neighbor's well-being

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

What kind of love did Jesus Christ have in mind when He spoke about loving our neighbor?

Most people would describe love as a romantic feeling, as deeply caring for someone or something. Or they would equate love with sexual attraction. The kind of love they have in mind is oriented toward themselves; it is a feeling, an emotion or attraction that makes them feel good. But Jesus Christ referred to love on a considerably higher level.

The Bible describes love as concern for others rather than concern for ourselves and our wants and needs. In its simplest terms, love is the way of giving rather than the way of getting (Acts 20:35).

These words stand in vivid contrast to the modern philosophy of self-worship. Ours is a world in which many believe they have a right to renounce personal responsibility in their quest for self-fulfillment. As a result, some people have come to believe it is perfectly acceptable to cut themselves loose from those who have come to depend on them if it will enable them to get what they want out of life. Such an attitude is a prescription for emptiness. It is contrary to genuine love. Eventually those who practice this way of life will encounter frustration.

Jesus said our love should be outgoing, directed first toward our Creator. We are to strive to please and serve Him rather than ourselves (Matthew 6:24). We should love Him with all our being. Following this example, We should also love toward our neighbor, our fellow human being. Our own well-being should not be our only concern. We should also be concerned about our neighbor's well-being.

The Proverbs tell us: "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it, when you have it with you" (Proverbs 3:27-38). Of course, we can't all people personally in this life. It is not in our power to do so. But we should still desire their well-being, and that will be possible when Christ returns to the earth.

Jesus Christ, after giving His disciples a lesson in love, humility and service to others, said to them, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them" (John 13:17). In less than two weeks we will be reminded of His example of service and concern for others when we participate in the footwashing service at the Passover.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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