Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

It’s beautiful how God strings everything together! I love His timing! He positioned this month’s blog post to be due earlier than normal. The due date landed the day after God took me through a radical journey I never believed I would complete! As I write this, I am coming off a 31-day liquid fast.

Day 1, the Lord said have no food or drink. Day 2 through 8, I was to have nothing other than water. Day 9 through 16, I could have water and natural juices only. Day 17 through 28, I could have anything liquid. Day 29, the Lord said to reverse, that day I would have water and natural juices only. Day 30, I would have nothing other than water. Day 31, I would have no food or drink. During this time, I learned to be full of God’s love alone. I found that when I wanted to give up, I would worship and consume His Word.

There toward the last 3 days, I knew it would be a breeze. After all, at that point for the first time in my life ever, I went a whole day with no food or water. I had gone 7 days on water only, 8 days on water and juice alone, and for 12 days I was on liquids only! So reversing was going to be a celebration, a space of extraordinary supernatural strength, where I would finish strong.

What I found is that if I had not had the support of thy neighbors, I would have failed! Through the grace of God alone, my peers and the leadership at my place of employment encouraged me to push through day 29. Day 30, I had a sister from the prayer line that I am a part of pray over me and pour into me. My counselor allowed God to use her session to push me through the pain for the purpose of HIS promise! I was reminded of what my why of fasting was and what was being broken. On day 31, my leader at work cheered me on, reminding me I was in my final hours. My cousin and best friends declared strength over me to finish stronger than I started. My lover, my partner, my husband refused to allow me to break at sundown as I attempted to renegotiate the terms of the fast with God.

By the grace of God, through the community God has given me through all thy neighbors, I finished the fast!

Praise God for creating us to be in relationship. We were created not only to be codependent on God in truth and love, but also to be codependent in healthy, authentic relationships! So much so that in Matthew 22:36-40, we see this:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” NIV

My God, right under loving the Lord God, our Father, we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves! So powerful! I would have never thought loving thy neighbors would in return carry me through the unthinkable in my mind.

We were never called to do this life alone. Catch this! Jesus Christ Himself could do ALL things as He was God, Spirit, and Son (3-in-1). He came to earth and did life not only with the 12 disciples but with so many more! As we look to Him as our model, we learn how we are to live our lives! We see the importance of not only doing life with others, but genuinely loving others!

As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way. Consider some of these additional teachings:

  • Forgiveness should go hand in hand with love. Because blame keeps wounds open, only forgiveness heals.
  • Some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes.
  • When it is necessary for us to reprove another, we should afterward show forth an increase of love.
  • Love is expressed in many recognizable ways. A smile, a wave, a kind comment, a compliment. Other expressions may be more subtle, such as showing interest in another’s activities, teaching a principle with kindness and patience, and visiting one who is ill or homebound.

When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, He could have chosen any of the many commandments from the Old Testament, from the law of Moses, or from the Ten Commandments themselves. Instead, He summarized all the commandments in these laws, which require loving Him and loving people!

We cannot truly love God if we do not love thy neighbors on this journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love thy neighbors if we do not love God. Those of us in Christ are all God’s children. He is our Heavenly Father, and as such, we are all brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, let loving all people become your way of life.

Written by Stacha Ashburn


All scripture was taken from the NIV.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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