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Neighbor, Who is My Neighbor?, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace
Who is My Neighbor?

Posted On February 4, 2019

Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This passage is what Matthew Henry called ‘an exposition of the second table of the Ten Commandments’. The ‘second table’ is the back six commandments which detail how Christians practically love others. The Jewish teachers distorted this over time and in today’s passage, Jesus clears up the abusive way Jewish leaders taught His enduring Moral Law. The Old Testament always spoke of loving your neighbor (see the Decalogue). The Jewish leaders somewhere along the way (I speculate during the intertestamental period) defined neighbor as those like you, or even those who like you.

Think about how that teaching still permeates our culture today. As Christians, we like to insulate ourselves from folks who aren’t like us and who think differently than us. We see them as a threat to our way of life. Not to get political, but our recent government shutdown highlights our tendency to be scared of the unknown. Our government was shut down because of a fear of people who don’t fit into our way of life. Jesus brings clarity to the Jewish leaders who perverted His Word and to those of us who struggle loving those who aren’t like us. He says we are to love. And our love has a purpose. It is not an aimless love. It is a God-oriented love. We love, and we welcome strangers (both domestic and foreign) to our country, our neighborhoods, our dinner tables, and our churches for the sake of exalting Christ and heralding the gospel.

Our lack of loving those who aren’t like us is a symptom. It is a symptom of a larger problem. The larger problem is that we aren’t obeying the first table (the first four commandments). We have a worship disorder. So, if you find yourself in a place where you refuse to love those different than you, and you don’t welcome the foreigners among you (Lev. 19:34), it is because you’re worshipping some sort of idol. You’re certainly not worshipping the God of the Decalogue.

So, dear brother and sister, spend some time today working through the Ten Commandments then come back and read Jesus’ words in our text today and ask the Lord to make you tender toward those who are unlike you for His glory and their salvation.

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