Love Your Neighbor (The Exodus)

(3 minute read)

When God leads Israel out of Israel and into the desert, one of the very first things he does (after providing them with food and water and protection) is give them the Law. The intention of the Law is to facilitate the full flourishing of human life. The Creator reaches into his creation to reiterate his plan and remind us how things are meant to work. Law is restrictive only in the sense that a canvas is restricts a painter. It gives us boundaries in which to imagine and pursue the good life. It also demonstrates to us that we cannot create the good life by our own devices. We rely on grace to guide and strengthen us.

The Hebrew word rea, translated “neighbor," is repeated these chapters in Exodus. This clues us in that the Law is more social than individual. It is not a checklist of mandates for personal righteousness but a communal way of life. Virtues like duty, justice, piety, and holiness all take shape within a community. And all these virtues find their fullness is one: love.

For this reason the New Testament claims that the whole law is summarized in two commands: 1) love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and 2) love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36–40). Love fulfills the Law (Romans 13:10). The point of the Law from the beginning is for God to instruct us how to live together in his love. In other words, the Law is essentially a guidebook entitled “How to Love God and One Another." If we miss this, we miss everything. Without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). Laws, properly understood, are expressions and exercises of love.

Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 12:1–17, and reflect on each one. How does it exercise love for God and neighbor? How do they express God’s plan and purpose for human life? How does Christ embody it? Which of them need work in your own heart and life

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor? (Fibers of Love)

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC