To Everyone: The commandments . . . are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Romans 13:9) I urge . . . that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1) Table of Duties, SC
We all love ourselves, we all think we’re swell and all is good with “me.” To think about our neighbor, though… let’s face it, it’s just not a priority. To love our neighbor as ourselves, that’s just too much work! This is how we live our lives. We live them with little regard for our neighbor, and we go day to day with no concern for them or their well-being. We love our neighbor little and we love ourselves much. In today’s reading from the Small Catechism, Dr. Luther writes concerning the vocation of every Christian. By virtue of your Baptism into Christ Jesus you have this vocation in life: to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not going to be the easiest vocation you’ve ever taken on, but it’s yours – given to you – nonetheless.
By virtue of the Gospel, we love our neighbors. We love our neighbors, because our Lord loves us. Our Lord’s love is found in the waters of Holy Baptism, and this is a good starting point for you loving your neighbor, too! Your neighbor’s sins are as forgiven as yours are; the Lord died for them on the Cross, too! Thus, in Christ, you are redeemed children of God. Therefore, you ought to deal with your neighbor, not as a sinner or a pagan, but as a forgiven child of God!
When we deal with our neighbor in love we realize that they are as forgiven as we are. They, too, are basking in the same righteousness won by Jesus on the Cross that you are. Go to the altar of God. There with His Body and Blood in your mouth and belly, rejoice! There, in Him, you are joined to your brothers and sisters in Christ in the one body of Christ. And you learn to love even your neighbor who is not a Christian because you are reminded that Christ died for all people.
Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. For in loving your neighbor you love the Lord, and such is a gift to you – a forgiven child of God. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Let each his lesson learn with care, and all the household well shall fare.
Lord of all good, our gifts we bring You now; Use them Your holy purpose to fulfill. Tokens of love and pledges they shall be That our whole life is offered to Your will. (LSB 786.1)