shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house
of the Lord
my whole life long.
2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27
Suggested memory verse: But when he had become strong he grew proud, to his destruction. (26:16),
Paul cites specific commandments which deal with behavior toward other people, behavior that destroys relationships (see Exodus 20:13-17). He says all of these specific commandments as well as any other commandments can be summed up in this one command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." He is echoing Moses. You may remember that in the center of the purity regulations that the Lord spoke to Moses was "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18).
"The way to fulfill the law, the way to live the way God intends for us to live," Paul says, "is to love."
Krister Stendhal, in his Final Account, Paul's Letter to the Romans, reminds us that church people in particular may need to hear this command to love one another:
"Knowledge puffs up, and love builds up, and Paul is not using that language in order to say that there is much love in the church. On the contrary, he said, if you are going to be a church, and if you are going to be able to stand such distressing fellow Christians as we Christians often are to one another, and as we find ourselves to be, you surely need love. Love is measured by the amount of tension it can take, not by how it feels."After reminding them of the command to love one another, Paul, like Moses in Leviticus, returns to a list of forbidden activities: drunkenness, debauchery, quarreling, and jealousy.
Moses was speaking to people in the wilderness on their way to the land that had been promised them. Their lives had been ruled by Pharaoh. They now have a new law. They now should recognize that the Lord is their master. Paul is speaking to people living under the reign of Caesar. It's time for them to recognize who really is in charge.
And, Paul is speaking to us.
Harold Kushner in his Lessons to be Learned and Lived, a Reflection on Psalm 23 reminds us that the psalm doesn't offer us the pious hope that if we are good people that our lives will be easy. Instead, we can expect God's help as we meet the challenges that face us. Another lesson that Kushner finds in the psalm is that although we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we respond to it.
Gary Sims, when he used to write the Reflections each week for First United Methodist, Albuquerque, asked these questions:
Do you dwell in the house of the Lord?Proverbs 20:11
If not, when are you planning to move in?
Will it be after you take care of a few things in your life?
Do you have an agenda or plan that you want to follow before turning your life over to God?
Are you putting God's goodness and mercy on hold?
Are you counting your blessings to see if your cup is overflowing?
Are you looking for a bigger cup?
Do you see that now is the time to move into God's house so that these promises of life can begin?
Even children make themselves known by their acts,
by whether what they do is pure and right.
Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, we have read over and over what you expect of us. Forgive us for those times that we have not loved or not lived the way you have taught. Forgive us and strengthen our will to change. Amen.