Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
The idea of loving one another was apparently radical in Jesus' day. Just as it is radical today. It's always been radical. Radical because it's difficult. It goes against our nature.
It's a tough thing to do. We don't all look alike, act alike, think alike, or even smell alike. Something about us wants to judge others by what we observe on the surface. We think mean thoughts ... we sometimes say them. Or we simply show favoritism or maybe, even ever so slightly, put ourselves ahead of others.
But yet in this scripture, we can see just how critical this commandment of Jesus' had been passed along to be. The one who doesn't love his neighbor -- all his neighbors -- as himself ... is no better than the murderer or the adulterer.
Think about it. That is a tough pill to swallow. How can I live a life so pure that I never judge others? Is that even feasible?
This is big stuff ... not something we can just say "Well, God's grace covers us" and move on. Yes, His grace does cover us ... but this idea of loving others is truly world-changing.
What does it take in ourselves to be able to live this way? For one thing, we have to feel good about ourselves. Oftentimes, judging others is our way of felling better about ourselves.
Yet this is a self-fulfilling circle ... if I love others ... if I encourage and affrim them ... then they feel better about themselves ... and become more likely to love others.
It's a beautiful idea ...
But human nature holds us back.
Love one another -- all others -- as ourselves ...
How do you live it out? How do I live it out?
Would God's Kingdom come if we all lived it out?