Where’s the love? Part two…

The Bible doesn’t only tell us that supposedly spiritual people are often mean, it also provides us with all kinds of specific examples of how supposedly spiritual people fail to love their neighbor.

Take Cain to begin with. He becomes jealous and then goes out and actually gets physically violent with his own brother.

Jealousy is a pretty big problem for spiritual people. That was one of Saul’s main issues.

You remember how Saul started hating David when David started getting popular with his fellow Israelites. After that, Saul started strategizing to bring David down, got angry with his own family members who sided with David, began throwing spears, thinking irrationally about what was going on with David, and all sorts of other crazy stuff.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan the religious people are condemned not so much by what they do, but by what? What they fail to do.

When they walked by the man who was beaten on the side of the road, does Jesus say they stepped on him? That They spit on him? No, they just walked by him. And by doing so, Jesus says they didn’t fulfill the command to love their neighbor.

So get this, we don’t only break the command to love by doing something like with Saul and Cain, we can also break the command by not doing something, by our inaction, by seeing someone in need and failing to have compassion and reach out to them.

We could give so many examples of ways in which the gospels tell us Pharisees, the religious elite of Jesus’ days failed to show love.

One of the most graphic to me has to be in Luke 13. There is this woman who had been sick for eighteen years, Luke says she was actually doubled over and couldn’t even straighten up, and Jesus heals her, but the synagogue official, instead of getting all excited, he freaks out and starts ranting and raving because Jesus healed her on the Sabbath. He had so distorted the purpose of God’s commands that he couldn’t even see the woman who was hurting and in desperate need right in front of him.

In the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, what does Jesus say the Pharisee was doing? Treating other people with contempt. He was looking down on the people all around him.

Paul in Romans 14, he’s dealing with Christians who rightfully think they can eat certain foods but are so committed to eating those foods that they run right over their weaker brother who doesn’t understand that it’s all right for them to eat those certain foods. They’ve got this biblical conviction but then they are using it as a hammer to pound on their brother and Paul’s like if you are doing that you are not walking according to love, in verse 15.

In James, the church member were showing partiality, which means that they were relating to people on the basis of what they could get from them. And then later, James says that they were blessing God and at the same time cursing their brothers. So you’ve got two examples of ways that religious people fail to love their brother there, favoritism and slander.

John talks about someone who sees his brother in need, has the means to help him, but just closes his heart and fails to reach out. He says how could a person like that how the love of God within him. Again, what we’ve got there is inaction. He doesn’t say the person walks all over the person in need, doesn’t say that he says nasty things about the person in need, but instead says that he doesn’t reach out and help the person that he sees is in need when he has the means to do so. And then he closes up with a very general example of a person who says he loves God while in his heart just hating his brother.

Those are just a few of the examples the Bible gives of ways in which supposedly spiritual people go about breaking the command to love their neighbor. But even these few illustrations give us a great checklist to examine our lives by.

We say we know what the Bible teaches about love but do we?

…come to worship while we are just infuriated with someone else.

…pray to God and then get physically violent with someone who does something we don’t like.

…go through the motions of worship when there is someone in our life who is hurting and we have totally closed our heart to them and we are not willing to reach out to them and help them.

…claim to be a religious person yet when we see someone closing your heart and failing to act. Mark that down, failing to act. Remember we’re not just talking about action here. We’re talking about inaction. We’re talking about the lazy person, the person who doesn’t devote his life to helping others.

…go to church,pray and then go home and on the way home talk about how terrible we think someone else is.

…study the Bible, learn what’s right and becoming so proud over what we know that we use it to hurt and bash our brother.

…claim to be amazed by the gospel, yet in our personal relationships with others, base how we treat them on how they treat us or what they have to give us.

…sing hymns and say all kinds of great things about God and then go home and yell nasty things at our spouse.

…pretend to be all spiritual while having all sorts of bitterness in our heart, an unwillingness to forgive someone else, an unwillingness to reach out and love someone else, to look all good on the outside, but inside to be filled with hateful, unkind, unloving thoughts.

Obviously, that list is just a beginning, but I think if most of us were going to be honest it does help expose some ways in which we need to work harder at obeying Paul’s command to put on love.

Now the real scary thing about that list though, is that from what we can tell, many of those who were pretending to worship and pretending to be all spiritual, who knew what God commanded about love and yet were flagrantly disobeying Him, don’t seem all that convicted about it.

And so you wonder how could a person be going to church, hear sermons on love, read passages on love, talk about love, and yet go out and live with himself while breaking all those commands?

Well, the Bible is such a spotlight. It doesn’t only tell us that religious people are often unloving, and it doesn’t only show us ways in which religious people are often unloving, it also reveals ways in which religious people often respond when confronted by the flat-out straight-commands of Scripture that they are disobeying. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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