Did you know that Jesus was very deliberate about creating the commandments? These commandments were not merely thrown together for the sake of organization or God’s well-being but, instead, our well-being. We serve an awesome God! I can’t celebrate that enough, and although we are sinners, humanly unable to perfectly obey God’s holy laws, God gave us His laws to bring us to Christ and to remind us of how much we need His forgiveness for salvation. Among the Ten Commandments, Jesus had His reason as to why the second greatest commandment is similar to the first:
‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. —Matthew 22:36-40
When we love God with everything we have, we occupy the emotional capacity to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Once we have the “Love the Lord” commandment down pat, the second commandment will naturally follow, and this is truly important to highlight, especially because of society’s current climate when people feel as though some are less worthy of love, dignity and respect.
We are in an ever-changing day and age when various influences and fleshly feelings may lead you to believe that not all people are deserving of love and dignity, but as a follower of Christ, no matter how flawed you may be or how often you sin, you know and believe that everyone on God’s green earth is truly valuable. We fool ourselves into believing that we should love others how we see fit. This is a pitfall of Christianity because we are not to carry out the desires of the body and the mind (Ephesians 2:3). However, the harsh reality remains that people love in a way that seems right in their eyes, and they hate in a similar fashion, too. So, it’s not difficult to understand why violence, pain and turmoil exist in the world.
You see, the Lord deliberately and joyfully places people on our path who are nothing like us. These people do not share the same beliefs, their lifestyles are different and their practices may be unfamiliar, too. However, when Christ occupies your heart, and you fully accept that you are to love the way He loves, these people are not to be seen as roadblocks or less deserving of love and dignity. In fact, your feelings are the opposite! Christianity is not a hall pass to judge, condemn, gossip, hurt or justify your sinful nature. We believe in the Most High, but that does not mean we are the Most High or in position to judge or deem someone as less than worthy. God does not assume such hurtful responsibilities, so we certainly shouldn’t either.
Take an honest, unfiltered look at the way you love others. Examine the way you treat people who do not share the same beliefs, who look differently, who talk differently, who cause you aggravation or frustration, and who have a different lifestyle. Then, ask yourself what God would want you to do in response. I have a sneaking suspicion that the words “JUDGE THEM!” would confidently (and wrongly) escape your mouth. Perhaps the best thing you can do today, and every day after that, is tap into your love for God, thank Him for the perfect, everlasting love and mercy He gifts you, and then apply that gratitude by loving others in the same fashion. Remember—your love for others is a reflection of the place God holds in your heart. Honor Him through love.