Love Your Neighbor (John 1:14-17)

Jesus comes not to abolish the law but to fulfill it and make it possible for us to live like him. Jesus’ own summary of “the basics” is this: love God and love your neighbor. In order to live in this way we must continually remember that “we all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.” This means our forgiveness, kindness, generosity, and patience is not self-generated or self-sustaining.

The true source of our serving is not our own strength but the Spirit’s infinite supply of grace.

We tap into this grace by giving thanks. Gratitude begets generosity in a dance of “exuberant giving and receiving.” We realize Christ's gift in our own life and overflow with the desire to share what we have been given—life with God.

Law alone is no longer the reason we serve others. In fact, the law shows us that we can’t do it on our own. Our love is not a strict obligation but a spontaneous response to the gift we have already been given. When we love our neighbor just because “we should,” we will run out of steam eventually. When we love our neighbor in response to God’s loving us, we are relying not on our own love but God’s, which is never exhausted. While we withhold and only have so much to offer, our God is "generous inside and out,” and he uses us to share that generosity with others. We ourselves become his vessels of grace, vehicles of his presence and peace.

Our human love is restricted and inconsistent—only a dim reflection of divine love. But as a reflection, it still shines the light of God’s perfect love, even if imperfectly. In this light, our own weakness and weariness change from excuses and obstacles into reasons to love one another. I am just as helpless and hurting as my neighbor, and God has given me life through the grace of Jesus Christ. So what stops me from sharing that grace?

All we have to offer is ourselves, broken but beloved by God. Like John, we point out the source of life—the One who loved us first. As we remember his arrival among us, let’s give thanks for his limitless grace and seek to share it wherever we can. When we do, we make the unseen God “plain as day."

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor? (Sarah E. Raymond School of Early Education)

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC.