Devotion 84

Loving Others

The two highest commands in Torah are: Love Yahveh with all your heart, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6) and Love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19). It is no coincidence Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, cited these, when asked about the greatest commands, as we read in Matthew 22. How easy is it for us to obey these?

Loving Yahveh appears to be the command more easily obeyed but is it really? In response to the question, Rabbi, which of the mitzvot in the Torah is the most important, Adonai Yeshua gave the scribe, what we read in Matthew 22. We know these commands come from Torah and, therefore, knowing this we also should know that failure to obey His commandments from Torah constitute disobedience. Yet how many of His followers have taken the position that His commands in Torah have been nullified by Adonai Yeshua’s death and resurrection?

Then we arrive at the second greatest command, loving our neighbours. This command is also difficult for many of us to obey. There are several reasons for this.  Well, our relationships with our neighbours tends to be up close and personal; unless we are hermits, our relationships do not exist at a distance. Let’s examine some of the impediments to loving our neighbours as ourselves.

A primary reason is, of course, our DNA. We human beings are born with a built-in need to survive. Thus, whenever we feel our security is in jeopardy, there is conflict. A child is hungry – he cries. A child is in physical distress – she wails. This is true of adults also; however, our crying and wailing becomes more subtle and often more devious, as we ‘mature’. In Deuteronomy 29:9-11, we are given a rationale for loving our neighbours – Today you are standing, all of you, before Adonai your God — your heads, your tribes, your leaders and your officers — all the men of Isra’el,  along with your little ones, your wives and your foreigners here with you in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water. We, who form a community, either structured or unstructured, are not the same. Some of us have more education than others; some have more life experience; some have more physical dexterity, etc. In other words, we are different from each other and, yet, we are together.

Human nature has an element of competition that is so very difficult to over-come, even among believers in the One True God. If you doubt this, just read the all-too-frequent Facebook posts focused on politics, the Names of God, the deity of Adonai Yeshua, and the list goes on. Those in positions of leadership (Pastors, Deacons, Rabbis, Shamashim, Teachers) often assume a hierarchical stance on the interrelational ladder, rather than an egalitarian position. Why is this?

Often, we humans over-evaluate our own positions, knowledge, contributions, and under-evaluate those of others. Even believers have a great difficulty in being non-competitive.

Also, even though we do have a greater level of education, experience or whatever than others, this does not mean that others excel in domains different from ours. However, the trend seems to be the one area where we do excel is generalized into all areas of our life, giving us a superior edge.

Finally, and most importantly, there is a distinction between us and our Creator. This is not a small distinction but an infinite one. Compared to the Almighty, we are puny, insignificant, and yet, He desires a relationship with each and every one of us, through His Son Adonai Yeshua.

Beloved, focusing on our relationship with the Ruler of the Universe and the Lover of our Souls, will often bring us back to the reality – He loves us because He is Love. There is nothing in or of us that attracts Him! He loves us because He is Love! How do you interpret that reality into your relationships with others?

CONSIDER: It is often difficult to love others, particularly those whose qualities and characteristics do not match our standards. Look closely into your own heart and identify what is blocking you from loving those around you. If you look to them first, then you have already identified the problem – pride.

ACT: During Yom Teruah, or Rosh Hashanah, if you prefer, we take this opportunity to repair relationships with those that have been broken. I urge you to step forward, be the mature one and reach out to that person. Offer her/him the hand of reconciliation. Doing so, shares the love of Yahveh/Adonai Yeshua.

PRAYER: Abba B’Shamayim, Father in Heaven, I come to you this day seeking your leadership, your guidance, your wisdom. Please be with me as I step forward and reach out to someone with whom there is a strained relationship (name). I sincerely request the Blessed Holy Spirit of the Living God to guide me. In Your Beloved Name I pray.

By heartformessiah

Dr. Michael Wodlinger is a Messianic Jew, living in Quebec, Canada. He has been a university professor and a rabbi of a Messianic Fellowship.

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