Matthew 22:34-40 – Love, Love, Love! Love is All Ya Need!

Posted: March 8, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 22:34-40 (Part 2)
The Greatest Commandment

Love. Love. Love. Love is all ya need. Famous line from a famous song from a historically famous group. “All You Need Is Love” is a song by the Beatles that was released as a non-album single in July 1967. It was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The Beatles performed the song as Britain’s contribution to Our World, the first live global television link. Watched by over 400 million in 25 countries, the program was broadcast via satellite on 25 June 1967. Flash forward to the summer of 2012 when the single, “Proof of Your Love” was released by the Christian contemporary band, For King and Country, whose lyrics include references to 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, which says that I can do all these great things as a human being that are benevolent in nature but if I don’t have love it is meaningless. Throughout the history of popular modern music, love is a constant theme. Love sells. People by music about love. People buy books about love. People buy art and sculpture where the main feature is love. We appear to be designed to want it, need it, live for it and desire it. We feel alone and lost without it. It also seems that even if you don’t have anything else, if you have love you can be happy in any situation. A lost and lonely homeless man would rather be dead in many cases, but a homeless man with his homeless wife by his side has hope. What is the difference? Love. A child trapped in a sex trafficking ring in the streets of Mumbai, India has no hope and no future, but take that child out of the situation with the help of Christian missionaries and she flourishes and becomes a bright, hopeful child once again. What’s the difference? Love. A battered wife for years is beaten down and fearful and the world is a sinister place where nobody wins and there is no hope. Remove her from that situation and one day she remarries and becomes a whole and complete and flourishes and has the joy of a little girl inside her again. What’s the difference? Love. Love is powerful. Love is central to our existence. Love is the motivating factor for why Jesus Christ departed heaven temporarily to come live among us. It is that concept of the necessity of love that brings us to today’s Scripture passage, Matthew 22:34-40:

 

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

Yesterday, we talked about loving God first and foremost above anything else. That must come first before any other love because if we cannot do that one right, we cannot truly do the other right. Today, let’s talk about the second and following part of what Jesus calls the greatest command. That following part is to love your neighbor as yourself. There are a couple of things that are important to note here. First, we must define what loving others as ourselves means. Second, we must discuss that being benevolent to our neighbors is not loving them. Finally, we shall see that love is sacrificial. Without love life is meaningless. All your need is love.

What does loving your neighbor as yourself mean? Loving ourselves is pretty easy. But what I think is the true meaning of loving neighbors as we love ourselves is that we in loving ourselves we will do what we have to do to cause ourselves to survive in the world. We will defend ourselves when someone physically attacks us. We will defend ourselves when someone verbally attacks us. We will do what we have to do to keep food in our bellies. We will do whatever we have to do to survive. God instills in all of us a great will to survive. You see guys in heated battles of war in hand to hand combat where it is me or him and we do what we have to do to survive the fight. It is like that in life in general. What if we were like that about our wives, children, family, neighbors and even strangers. What if we fought for the survival of others the way we fight for ourselves? What if we cared about the needs of others as much as we care about our own needs? What if we saw their needs as just as important as our own? What if we sought justice for others in the same way we would fight for justice for ourselves? What a different world that would be. When we care about others as much as we care about our own needs, that is love. When we see other people in the same light as we see ourselves that is the expansion of the world beyond self-centeredness. Self-centered people cannot truly love others. But those who can see beyond their own nose can love. Love is caring about others as equals. Love is seeing a complete stranger’s needs as important as my own. Love means that I can see his needs and not just my own. Love expands the borders beyond self. What a world that would be? We could end a lot of social ills if we did truly see other’s needs as equal to our own. We would not have to have a lot of government programs that drain our wallets if we just have true love for our neighbors. Instead of gathering things and trinkets for ourselves and loving ourselves through self-absorbed entertainment, relationships, and things we could really change the world.

But wait, can’t I show love for my neighbor by giving to United Way? Cannot I contribute to feeding a child in a third world country and have shown that child love? Can’t I make an impact on my community by giving to my church because my church is really active in the community – is that not showing love? Yes and no. Don’t get me wrong. We need to give generously to causes that are right and moral and to causes that show the love of Christ to the world around us. Let us go back to that song by For King and Country and the Bible passage from which it springs, 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (MSG) where it says:

 

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

 

If we give to our church, if we participate in things that our church does in the community, if we give to Restore Haiti to feed children, If we contribute to United Way to meet needs in the broader community, if I held build a house for Habitat for Humanity, and do not have love for those who I am helping then it is just some self-centered ego massage that I have added to my slate of good deeds. Without love, we give to worthy causes to assuage our guilt. We work at church events for the community to be seen by others. We go on mission trips just to hang out with our friends and to add to our resume of benevolence. Without love, it is meaningless. Without love, it is busy work. Love makes us care about our neighbors. Love compels us to do whatever we can. We give because we love. We do not give out of compulsion. We give of ourselves as much as we give of our money. Love makes it matter. Love makes us want to do more than just stand on the sidelines. Love makes us want to get deeper. Love makes us want to change things for the better one person at a time. Love compels us to fight against injustice, poverty, racism, crimes against women and children, against greed and avarice, against hatred, all in ways that set people on their feet so that they can reach the full potential that, in God’s love, they were made.
Love is sacrifice. Love is going beyond the borders of our nose. Love means investing in people one on one. Love means not just complaining about a problem in the world but actually rolling up our sleeves and fixing it. Love means thinking of others before we think of ourselves. Love compels us to lift others up. Love requires us to get to know the people in the world around us. Love requires us to get in the fight and risk losing. Love requires us to place value on the needs of others. Love. Love. Love. Love is all you need. We have the ultimate example of sacrificial love in Jesus Christ. He did not have to leave His throne. It was certainly comfortable there and He could have just written us off to wallow in our sin and to write us off to the fate of hell that we deserve. He loves us so much that He set aside His own glory and came to earth as a man to live a perfect and sinless life and to teach and to minister and to heal. He lived the sinless life so that He could personally be the sacrifice for our sins and take on the whole wrath of God for all time for all sin on the cross. Why? So we could be reconciled to the Father. So, we could be made right with God through His sacrificial love. He came to earth so that He could demonstrate and teach about what love really is. It is about wholeness and healing and valuing everyone. It is about loving despite hate. It is getting beyond our nose. He is our example. May we have the guts to love like Jesus loved. May we have the willingness to sacrifice our own glories to me the needs of others. Without love, this whole thing called life is really meaningless. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love. Love. Love. Love is all you need. Without love, we are nothing. Without Jesus Christ as our Savior, Lord, and Example, we cannot truly understand what love really is. Come to Him today. Learn about what real love is. In knowing Jesus, we can be like Forest Gump when he said to Jenny, “I may not be a smart man, Jenny, but I know what love is!”

Amen and Amen.

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