Week 16 Recap: Days 91-96

Read Mark 12:28-34.

Devotion by: Bill Hoopes

When my wife, Eva and I moved into our condo complex five years ago, we discovered that it was challenging to meet our neighbors. People would rush into their homes and never even attempt to make eye contact or say hello. We would very intentionally smile and say hello but to no avail. A few weeks after we moved in, we were standing out in the front of our condo on Halloween, handing out candy when we finally got to meet our next-door neighbor. Jennifer’s first words after we introduced ourselves were: “I’ve lived here for over a year, and you are the first people who have ever acknowledged or spoken to me!” What a sad testimony of modern life. We can be over-connected through social media, yet alienated from those who live around us.

In Mark’s Gospel, chapter 12, Jesus is asked by a teacher, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” In answer, Jesus quoted two Old Testament passages, (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18) “Listen, O Israel! The Lord, our God, is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is fascinating to me that Jesus included within the context of His greatest commandment the idea that in our extravagant love for God, we should also love our neighbors and ourselves. One of the responses to this revelation should be, like the lawyer in Luke 10:29, “And who is my neighbor?”

The Jews of Jesus’ day interpreted “neighbor” in the very narrow sense of only being “fellow Israelites.” Jesus, on the other hand, came with a revolutionary definition of neighbor to mean “anyone with whom we have dealings at all.” Bible commentator C. Leslie Mitton remarks that “If we love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we shall want for them the treatment we should want for ourselves, were we in their place.”

So, the next time you are out and about, acknowledge your neighbors around you and share with them in some way the love of God, which abounds within you!

Jessica Spivey