Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany – Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
Holiness and love
Holiness and love - the two belong together (Leviticus 19:1, 18, 34).
God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love.
Through His Spirit - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love - , He enables us to live this life.
We need His promises. We need His commands. Take them both together - not one without the other! Promises without commands - We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing. Commands without promises - Our 'obedience' becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace.
We are to 'be holy... before Him in love' (Ephesians 1:4). 'The holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the 'love' without which we are 'nothing' (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall 'be holy... in love' (Leviticus 19:34, 36).
Through the Scriptures of truth, we are led on the pathway of holiness and love.
‘Revive me according to Your Word’ (Psalm 119:25).
How does God revive us according to His Word?
- He gives us His salvation: ‘Let Your unfailing love come to me, O Lord - Your salvation according to Your Word’ (Psalm 119:41).
- He gives us His strength: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to Your Word’ (Psalm 119:28).
- He gives us a change of heart: ‘I have chosen the way of truth; I have set
my heart on Your laws... I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free... Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with my whole heart... Turn my heart to Your testimonies...’ (Psalm 119:30, 32, 34, 36).
- He gives us ‘new life’: ‘When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!’(40; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Through the Spirit of grace, we are led on the pathway of holiness and love.
We come to know God when ‘the Spirit’ leads us to ‘Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 3:11; John 16:14).
The Pharisees lived by law. Jesus lived by love.
The law of God - ‘holy and just and good’ (Romans 7:12) - had been distorted by the religious hypocrites. They were saying, ‘love your neighbour and hate your enemy’(Matthew 5:43). ‘Love your neighbour’ is found in Leviticus 19:18. ‘Hate your enemy’ is not found in the Old Testament. For the Jews, ‘neighbour’ meant their own kind. They wrongly concluded that Gentiles were to be hated.
Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear that we are to love our enemies as well as our friends (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus’ disagreement is not with the law of God. It is with man’s misuse of it. Jesus’ teaching is simple - Love is not to be limited. It is demanding - love is all-embracing. We dare not bring love within our reach. We always fall short. We can only come to Christ. Confessing our lack of love and trusting in His perfect love, we learn to love.