“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law” (Romans 13:8, NLT).
Thanks, Paul. It’s not like I have a whole list of responsibilities already. My homework needs finished. My messages need prepared. My guitar strings need changed. My eyes need expansion clips. And now, Apostle, you’re telling me that I need to love people.
Crazy people. Hurtful people. Selfish people. People who—let’s be honest—get in the way of my day.
From 8:05 a.m. to 3:37 in the afternoon, I’m locked within Wahama High School. There’s hardly ever a moment when a responsibility is absent from my grasp. Maybe it’s an assignment. Maybe it’s an agenda. Maybe it’s studying. And the problem isn’t that I hate what I do. I love most of it—in fact, maybe too much!
You see, I’m learning that sometimes I love my responsibilities more than I love people. And according to the Bible, loving people is a responsibility in and of itself.
Let me take a few more minutes out of your busy day to explain just what I mean. But in order to do this, I must refer to Luke 10:38-42.
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
Here’s an instance where the same situation produces two different responses. One rests while another works. Mary worships. Martha is self-reliant. But get this—Mary loves while Martha worries.
Which one of these two sisters are you? As you’ve probably gathered from the previous paragraphs, I most closely relate to Martha. I work more than I worship. I worry more than I love. I try harder than I trust (yes, the exact opposite of what I wrote about last week).
Like Martha, I’m too busy to love others. While Jesus is waiting for me to give him my burdens, I’m keeping them to myself. While Jesus is standing beside me, I insist on making things happen by my own strength. Although I’m not preparing a dinner like Martha, I’m walking through the hallways of my school with little thought of anyone but me, me, me! As I trudge around with textbook in hand, I’m passing hurting hearts—lost souls who need Jesus. But like Martha, I’ve often considered my responsibilities to be sincere. I mean, doesn’t God want me to accomplish everything to the absolute best of my ability? Sure he does! But I can’t forget to add “love” to my list of responsibilities. Besides, sometimes the people who simply embrace God’s presence go further than those who try to make it happen.