What’s the Minimum?  

Romans 13:8-10 – Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Although we wouldn’t say it this way (hopefully), we often approach the commands and restrictions of the Bible as a checklist or what we have to do and what we cannot do.  While it is true that God commands us and restricts us, these are boundary markers for the all-encompassing love we are to have for Him and for His people.  Unfortunately, we also approach each other and the command to love each other in this way as well.  What must I do to love my neighbor?  Who is my neighbor?  What is sin against my neighbor?

True love for our neighbor, like true love for God, seeks not only to not hurt them or to do what the Bible says in our treatment of them but to seek their good.  We are to listen to them and point them to the beautiful truth of the gospel.  We are to get to know them deeply and intimately and speak specific and applicable truth into their life and not just give them a blanket statement of truth and a verse or two and send them on their way.  True love cares and cares in an intimate way.  This is how God loves us and this is how we are to love others.

When we love our neighbor, we will not steal nor murder nor covet.  When we truly love them, we will not commit adultery and we will honor them.  These are the minimum.  Paul makes the statement above in his overall argument that the born-again Christian has changed and is now different from the world.  God has changed them to not only see the world through His lens but to look out for and love their brothers and sisters with a love that knows no limits.  We are to love with a love that doesn’t settle for the minimum.  How do you love?