And the Second is like it...
Here we read from Leviticus!
The paragraph that has this passage is Lev. 19:17-18
You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
This verse doesn't nearly have the drama attached to it as our Shema passage out of Dueteronomy 6. Nevertheless, our Lord says that this is the second greatest commandment and so we ought to have some familiarity with it.
So then, if you desire, you can memorize Deut. 6:5 and Lev 19:18 if you have not already. At least know the citation!
This passage does give us some valuable insight for our culture. First the statement is made that we may reprove our neighbor but that it should not lead us to sin. This is important as there are two opposite errors. In our society the error is going to be in saying that any reproving is "mean", "judgmental", even "hate words". This, of course, is not the reality portrayed in Scripture. Rather, we ought to lovingly and gently reprove our neighbors. The opposite error is to let this reproving lead to sin. This can come in a variety of ways. If it causes us to hate our neighbor, bear a grudge, seek vengeance, etc., then it is wrong.
The last clause of the verse is also important: "I am the Lord." Leviticus ends with this quite frequently and it shows the source of the law. The major importance is that if we are transgressing this law (namely, not loving our neighbors) then we are not merely violating them, but primarily we are violating God. In this sense, I think that I may confidently state that if we are not loving our neighbors then we are not loving God. John echoes this thought in his first epistle.
So brethren, how do you treat yourself? When you are hungry do you not feed yourself? When you are cold do you not get warmer clothes? When you are sick do you not A) seek the Lord in Prayer and B) seek medical help? When you are lonely do you not desire companionship? The list could go on indefinitely.
The only remaining question is if we love our neighbor in this same sense. As a final word of caution, let us never delude ourselves into thinking that we get to choose this "neighbor" category. This is not your circle of friends, nor the people who live on each side of your house. Jesus goes on at length rejecting the legalism and hypocritical nature of such thought.
So then, I used Romans 6 as our exhortation yesterday; I will now use Romans 8.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Let us live, in Christ, and put to death the deeds of the flesh, namely a self-centered prideful Spirit that looks out for Number1. Let us turn from this sin and truly love our neighbor as ourselves.
In Christ alone,