(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Go And Do Likewise
By Brittney Perez
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
– 1 John 4:20 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but, when I read this verse, I feel a heaviness come over me. This very verse alone holds a weighty truth that is bold and to the point. Maybe you’re reading this verse for the first time or have read it multiple times. Regardless, there’s no way around the fact that this verse says what it says and means what it means. If we claim to love God whom we have not seen, we must love our brother and sister who we have seen. No arguments.
In Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV), Jesus states that we are to, …“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Not only are we commanded to love God, but we are also commanded to love our neighbor. Jesus goes even further to say to love our neighbor AS WE LOVE OURSELVES. If that doesn’t strike a cord in you, I don’t know what will! How do we even love ourselves? Are we kind to ourselves? Harsh? I think many of us would say we love ourselves and if that’s the case then we should be loving others that same way (that is if we truly are loving ourselves). Sometimes loving is hard, but hate is harder because it destroys us from within. I’ve never met someone with a hateful heart who was happy and truly enjoying life.
In 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV), it says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Love covers sin because Jesus loved us unto death and destroyed sin in our lives by His love for us if we believe upon Him; but hate destroys us and is caused by our own sinful nature and unwillingness to let go of wrongs and let God change us. In Proverbs 10:12 (NLT), we read, “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.” You see, love makes amends while hatred stirs up strife.
I love the story in Luke 10:25-37. To paraphrase, Jesus tells a story to an expert in the law looking to test Him. In His story, He speaks of a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He is attacked, left naked, beaten, and half dead. A priest walks down the road, sees the man lying there, and passes by; doesn’t help him at all. In fact, he crosses the street so as to avoid him. The same thing happens as a Levite passes by him – he is ignored. Then a Samaritan walks by and, seeing the man, has compassion on him. He bandages the man’s wounds and pays someone to look after him.
In short, people in the world today need compassion and the world lacks it. There are people in the world who have been beaten down by life and left broken and abused, leaving them feeling stripped of strength with nothing left but their voice. I love how the Samaritan man went the extra mile. He allowed the compassion within prompt him to action by taking care of the man, even going above and beyond to have the man taken care of by an innkeeper when he himself could not take care of him. Wow. That is compassion. Who in your community needs the compassion that Jesus has to offer through you? So much is happening in our world today from the coronavirus to racial injustice. After telling the story, Jesus asks the expert in the law which one of the men in the story was a neighbor (someone showing compassion) to the man that fell into the hands of robbers (vs. 36). The expert in the law responds, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus then tells him to, “Go and do likewise” (vs. 37).
May we heed the words of Jesus and “go and do likewise,” May we be a compassionate people like the Good Samaritan. May we be even more so like Jesus in how we love and serve others; loving God and loving people.