Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Second Greatest Commandment

"To love your neighbor as yourself." Poor guy, so close to the top, but only second best. But if Jesus felt this was the second most important thing that we can do, and between it and last weeks topic one could sum up the Law, then it is worth spending some time examining. First off, I hope people accept the interpretation that our neighbors, in this sense, are not just people with whom we share a fence, but all our fellow humans.

There is not a lot of explicit advice on how to love your neighbor, or yourself, in the Bible, but many of the Biblical commands involve taking care of ourselves and others. From how this is phrased, it almost seems like we should be good at loving ourselves, and use that as a model for how to love others. Unfortunately I think that many of us do not love ourselves in the way that Jesus desires, and often end up lacking in love for others as a consequence.
This commandment does put me in mind of exactly one other, which I think I'll share briefly. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" This is from Matthew 7:3, which is in a long section of Jesus expounding upon what the righteous life is. While it is inherently quite worthwhile stuff, it also serves as a reminder that the righteous life is so far out of our possible grasp, which is ok, because we are saved through faith and the blood of Jesus, more on that later, rather than our actions.

Anyway, Jesus goes on to say that we ought first remove the plank in our own eye, so we can see to remove the splinter in our neighbor's. I feel that here he is once again using subtle language with intent, can we remove the plank from our own eye? No, of course not, because the plank symbolizes sin, and we cannot remove our own sins, nor those of our neighbor. I interpret that passage not to mean that we should straighten up our own life, then make ourselves busy "fixing" the lives of people around us, but rather to remind us that it is not our place to "fix" ourselves or our neighbors, and we should, therefore, revert back to the prime directive for dealing with our neighbors, that is, to love them.

1 comment:

Frank said...

Well said, sir. Thanks