The Two Poles of the 2nd Commandment

It was Jesus Himself who identified loving God and loving neighbor as the first and second commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). It’s worth noting that the second commandment, like a magnet, has both a positive and a negative pole.

The negative pole:

“For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

The positive pole:

Referring to the second commandment, a lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered his question by telling the story of the Samaritan who met the needs of the wounded traveler—providing first aid, transportation, and lodging.

He then asked the lawyer which of the key players in the story had “proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands.” The lawyer admitted, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus replied, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:25-37).


So if we love our neighbor as ourselves there are certain things we will not do to our neighbor—to harm him (Galatians 5:14-15; James 2:8-9).  And there are things we will do for our neighbor—to help him (Galatians 5:13-14).

Let’s see how good a neighbor we can be this week!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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The Other Love Chapter

Beyond the familiar

Bible students call 1 Corinthians 13 the great Love Chapter of the Bible. It is well named.

Less familiar, however, is another chapter on love. Although not all of 1 John 4 is devoted to the subject, about two-thirds of it is.

While there are nine occurrences of the noun “love” (agapē) in 1 Corinthians 13, the word is used 12 times in 1 John 4. The verb for love (agapaō) is not found in 1 Corinthians 13, but it occurs 14 times in 1 John 4. If you add the noun and verb forms of love in 1 John 4, it comes to a grand total of 26!

What love from above should lead to

Statistics aside, what does 1 John 4 teach about love?

  • It all starts with God: “. . . love is from God . . . . God is love” (vv. 7, 8).
  • God loved first: “. . . not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (v. 10). “We love, because He first loved us” (v. 19).
  • God proved His love: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (v. 9).
  • We are to reflect His love: “. . . if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11).
  • Hatred toward others prevents fellowship with God: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20).

Love in two dimensions

First Corinthians 13 will always remain one of the very greatest of all passages. And yet a study of 1 John 4 along with it gives us a fuller picture. While Paul focuses on the horizontal dimension of love as expressed toward one another, John emphasizes the dynamics of how the horizontal affects the vertical–loving God–and vice versa.

The two dimensions cannot be separated.

love hate-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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A Better Way to Live

no littering-tagged

My friend and I have been cleaning up an area where someone dumped a mattress, gas grill, carpet, ceiling fan, recliner, old boards, trash, etc.

What does the Bible say?

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you . . .” (Matthew 7:12). “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

People who live by these principles, called the Golden Rule and the Second Commandment, not only refrain from littering and dumping, but also from lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, and a host of other selfish, anti-social behaviors.

Positively, these principles promote compassion, kindness, sharing, honesty, courtesy, respect, and countless other qualities that contribute to a better world.

What does the Bible do?

The Bible, when applied, not only points us to heaven, but also transforms society—one person at a time.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Like a Child

The kind of love children need

A couple of 7-year-old girls were talking about parents’ rules. One said to the other, “If they didn’t care about you, they’d let you do anything.”

Smart girl! She saw rules as evidence of love, and freedom to “do anything” as a disadvantage.


The kind of love we grownups need

Like children, we grownups have Someone who provides directions for living. When we’ve done as we pleased, we’re not always too pleased with what we’ve done.

We too need guidance and discipline (Hebrews 12:5-6).

The child who identifies parental authority with love is far more likely to be well-adjusted.

Christians who see God in the same way can enjoy their relationship with the Father (1 John 3:1; 5:3).

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