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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

June 1, 2018

Love of neighbor and passivity

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

What is easier – to love God or to love our neighbor? In any case, true charity calls for a high degree of spiritual maturity. After all, sometimes our neighbor hates us, is our enemy, and may not deserve our love.

Jesus tells us: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them" (Luke 6:32). Jesus puts those who think this way on the same level as the sinners. That would apply to those Christians who say: "We only need to look after our brethren in the faith and nobody else."

Jesus continues: "And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back" (verse 34). The good Samaritan had no idea who the seriously wounded man was. However, the basis for his actions was not the expectation that the victim would ever pay him back.

Jesus suggests another mindset: "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High" (verse 35). Here one could add: sometimes in the expectation of evil in return. Even so, we should help even when good is rewarded with evil. Our "reward will be great", Jesus said.

Love for one's neighbor in its simplest form is treating others as we would like to be treated. It is not about a passive behavior, i. e., what we should not do. Our neighbor is anyone who is in need at any time and whom we can help. (This does not mean we should neglect our family or harm our health!)

It is important to go beyond purely passive behavior as the good Samaritan did. Let us therefore remember what Jesus says in Luke 17:10: "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do."

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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