“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:23 NIV
Pretty harsh to call someone, a close friend even, Satan. Jesus Himself is the one who said that to Peter, the friend He chose to build His church upon. But, He didn’t mince words when Peter needed corrected.
Since I got admonished merely for stating someone overstepped proper boundaries and offended me, what would be said to Jesus for calling someone a derogatory name?
Would He receive similar treatment to that found in Dostoyesky’s The Grand Inquisitor?
It isn’t just Jesus though. The church’s beloved Paul is also guilty of “unloving words.” In Timothy 4:14 he declares, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also…”
Not only does Paul say the dude’s works are EVIL, he encourages others to avoid the poor guy and hopes he gets what he has coming to him!
That isn’t the only instance of this type of “unloving” expression.
The NET Bible interprets Psalm 1:1 as, “How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! ” But, isn’t it unloving to call people wicked, or judgmental to call them sinners?
Someone does it again in Proverbs 4:14. “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.”
Wow! So much unloving name calling going on here! And, repetitive advising of avoidance! Geesh!
Paul really let’s loose in the fifth chapter of 1st Corinthians, not only condemning the church there for NOT judging a misbehaving member, but he tells them to “deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh!” And, he mentions that their “glorying is not good.” What are they glorying in? Being loving and accepting perhaps?
Turn with me now in your Bibles (yes, I’m full of sarcasm today!) to 2nd Thessalonians 3, the final chapter of that little book. Here, we find Paul requesting prayer for deliverance from unreasonable and wicked men. But, he’s a missionary. Isn’t his job to convert the unsaved?
Oh! Does that indicate there’s a difference between the lost and the wicked?
Last week I was helping support and advise a young mother who is literally trapped in an abusive marriage. Her health is deteriorating rapidly as she is weakening under this horrible man. She made a reference to him treating her wickedly, and I concurred. That’s when one of her friends chimed in that we’re all too quick to call others wicked when they’re just lost, in need of a savior.
What would Paul have said to that?
Well, he tells us bluntly in verse 6 of that same chapter in 2nd Thessalonians how to deal with those claiming to be saved already yet behaving wrongly.
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
According to Paul, not only should she withdraw herself but so should we all. That man should find himself standing all alone and ashamed of what he’s done.
But, didn’t Jesus say to Love Thy Neighbor? This all seems so unloving.
What He really said was, “Love Thy Neighbor as yourself.” Sounds like He’s making a presumption that you already love yourself and desire what’s best for yourself. He doesn’t say, “Love Thy Neighbor but hate yourself.” Nor does He say, “Love Thy Neighbors who hurt your other neighbors, raping and beating them, showing them no mercy, stealing from them.”
The story of the good Samaritan is often used to defend the position I stand in opposition against. But, the good Samaritan helped a wounded and helpless man. He didn’t kneel down and preach to that man to forgive his attackers and those who had passed by without helping him. He didn’t scurry on down the road to express some acts of kindness to the robbers. He took care of someone who’d been wronged! He did NOT ask him what he’d done to put himself in such a vulnerable position. He simply went out of his way to care for someone who was unable to care for himself.
That, my friends, is Loving Thy Neighbor.