Verse: Romans 13:9-10
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Think about the actions mentioned in verse 9…adultery, murder, stealing, coveting. Could you ever imagine any of those being done in love? Of course not! And Paul tells us as much in verse 10. If we love our neighbors, we will do them no wrong, and thus we will fulfill the law. In other words, we won’t have to make a special effort to not do the things we are commanded NOT to do, if we simply put our efforts into doing the one thing we are commanded TO do.
At this point, you might be saying “But you don’t know my neighbors! How is it possible for me to love them when I don’t even like them?” Here’s how it’s possible – like and love are NOT two points on the scale of your feelings toward someone. You may like someone based on their personality and character traits. But the simple fact that we are commanded to love others tells us that love is a choice we make. We have the option to want the best for them and to think of them more highly than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), or not to do that.
We don’t actually need to like someone in order to love them. But one of the beautiful aspects of the gospel is this: the more, the better, and the longer we love them, the more we may start to like them. Because love changes hearts, in both the receiver AND the giver.
God, teach me to love my neighbors better, even (and maybe especially) the ones who are unlikeable. Help me to remember that I’ve done countless things to make myself unlikeable to you, but you have chosen to love me anyway. Fill me with that love so that it can overflow to those around me. Amen.
Author: Dave MacDonald