Beloved, it is as much the business of Gods minister to preach mans duty as it is to preach Christs atonement, and unless he doth preach mans duty, he will never be blessed of God to bring man into the proper state to see the beauty of the atonement. Unless he sometimes thunders out the law and claims for his Master the right of obedience to it, he will never be very likely to produce conviction certainly not that conviction which afterwards leads to conversion.
This rough world sometimes needs to be rebuked, and if we can get at the ears of the people it is our business to reprove them, and I think if ever there was a time when this text needed to be enlarged upon, it is just now. It is so often forgotten, so seldom remembered, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
First then, THE COMMAND. It is the second great commandment. The first is “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God,” and there the proper standard is “thou shalt love thy God more than thyself.” The second commandment is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor,” and the standard there is a little lower but still pre-eminently high, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” There is the command. We can split it into three parts. Whom am I to love? “My neighbor.” What am I to do? I am to love him. How am I to do it? I am to love him as myself.
Love thy neighbor too, albeit that he be of a different religion.
His religion thou sayest is unsound and untrue; love him for all that. Let not thy differences separate him from thee. Perhaps he may be right, or he may be wrong, he shall be the rightest in practice who loves the most.
Possibly he has no religion at all. He disregards thy God, he breaks the Sabbath; he is confessedly an atheist, love him still. Hard words will not convert him, hard deeds will not make him a Christian. Love him straight on; his sin is not against thee, but against thy God. Thy God takes vengeance for sins committed against himself, and leave thou him in Gods hands. But if thou canst do him a kind turn, if thou canst find aught whereby thou canst serve him, do it, be it day or night.
Again, thou art bound to love thy neighbor, though he offend thee with his sin.
We are bound to love even sinners, and not to drive them from the land of hope, but seek to reclaim even these. Is a man a rogue, a thief, or a liar? I cannot love his roguery, or I should be a rogue myself. I cannot love his lying, or I should be untrue, but I am bound to love him still, and even though I am wronged by him, yet I must not harbour one vindictive feeling, but as I would desire God to forgive me, so I must forgive him.
Oh, I would to God that this great law were fully carried out. Ah, my hearers, you do not love your neighbors, you know you do not. You do not hardly love all the people who go to the same chapel. Certainly, you would not think of loving those who differ from you in opinion would you? That would be too strange a charity.
Now if this love for our neighbor were carried out love, real love,--it would prohibit all rash anger. Who is ever angry with himself?
State the truth if thou art obliged to do it, as kindly as thou canst. Be no more stern than there is need to be. Deal with others as thou wouldst deal with thyself.
Deal gently, deal kindly, deal lovingly, and there is not a wolf in human shape but will be melted by kindness; and there is not a tiger in womans form but will break down and sue for pardon, if God should bless the love that is brought to bear upon her by her friend. I say again, for the worlds good, love your neighbors.
Christian, your religion claims your love, Christ loved you before you loved him. He loved you when there was nothing good in you. He loved you though you insulted him, though you despised him and rebelled against him. He has loved you right on, and never ceased to love you. He has loved you in your backslidings and loved you out of them. He has loved you in your sins, in your wickedness and folly. His loving heart was still eternally the same, and he shed his hearts blood to prove his love for you. He has given you what you want on earth, and provided for you an habitation in heaven. Now Christian, your religion claims from you, that you should love as your Master loved. How can you imitate him, unless you love too?
My text suggests first, the guilt of us all. My friends, if this be Gods law, who here can plead that he is not guilty? If Gods law demands I should love my neighbor, I must stand in my pulpit, and confess my guilt. In thinking of this text yesterday, my eyes ran with tears at the recollection of many a hard thing I had spoken in unwary moments. I thought of many an opportunity of loving my neighbor that I had slighted, and I labored to confess the sin. I am certain there is not one of all this immense audience who would not do the same, if he felt this law applied by the Spirit in power to his soul.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible