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"Love the Lord by Self-Sacrificially Loving One Another

Leviticus 19:18b (9-18)

Rev. Thomas Handrick, Sr.

Seventh S a Pentecost
Immanuel Lutheran Church & School  
Perryville, MO

View Associated File

Sun, Jul 15, 2007
Seventh S a Pentecost

Standard LSB C Readings:
First: Lev (18:1-5) 19:9-18
Epistle: Col 1:1-14
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
Psalm: Ps 41 (1)

 

In the name of the Triune God—Father,  Son, and Holy Spirit.  [Amen.]

(Leviticus 19:18b) "... but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."

INTRODUCTION: Dear Fellow Lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ and, hopefully, of each another.

It's been said (and up until now I believed it was true) that nowhere in the Bible does God command us to like another person, but He does command us to love one another.  What's the difference?  Well, in the German culture that has shaped and molded many of us we would liken it to the situation where God does not command us to drink a refreshing cold beer with another person, that is, enjoy his or her company.  However, He does command us to assist one another in times of need much like the Good Samaritan did.  Most, if not all, of us remember that he was the lead character in the mini-play that may be the most popular parable that Jesus told,, the one we read about in today's [1st/Holy Gospel] Reading.

"Why," we may ask, "does God command us to love one another?" The simple answer is that He created human beings so He could lavish the abundance of His love upon us and receive love from us.  That is, He wants us to thankfully respond to His love for us by fulfilling both tables of the Law.  In so doing, we ...

Transition: LOVE THE LORD BY SELF-SACRIFICIALLY LOVING ONE ANOTHER, something we do when we Resist and Desist Sinful Deeds and Words as well as when we Resist and Desist Sinful Attitudes and Thoughts.

I. Resist and Desist Sinful Deeds and Words. [9-14: "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard.  You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

"You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.  You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

"You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him.  The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.  You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD."] Sinful words and deeds flow forth from sinful thoughts, something we'll talk more about later.  In fact, St. James wrote,

(James 1:15) "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." 

The 4th through 10th commandments comprise the Second Table of the moral law that

(LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM WITH EXPLANATION. CPH, 1991. Page 54) "tells all people their duty toward God and other people."

Along with the 1st through 3rd commandments that comprise the First Table of the moral law, God gave all ten commandments to restrict us from sinning, reflect to us the reality of our sinning, and guide us in living our lives of gratitude and praise to God for His gracious gifts of forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life.  Those precious gifts are what Jesus Christ won for us with His holy life, innocent suffering and crucifixion death, and triumphant resurrection from the dead in victory over sin, Satan, and death itself.

Now we are free to live our lives in the lavish lusciousness of God's abundant mercy and grace.  We do that when we …

A. Avoid and stop doing sinful deeds that transgress God's Law.  It's a simple and yet profound question about a topic that's largely taboo in today's contemporary society.

(LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM WITH EXPLANATION. CPH, 1991. Page 95) "78. What is sin?  Sin is every thought, desire, word, and deed which is contrary to God's Law."

God desires that we avoid sinful deeds.  However, when we give in to a temptation of Satan, the world, or our own sinful flesh and rebel against God by disobeying Him, God doesn't want us to repeatedly continue the sin.  Instead, He desires that we stop doing the sin for several good and beneficial reasons.  First and foremost, it offends Him who is holy and blameless.  Second, it offends others around us and could even lead them into committing the sin.  And third, it endangers our own and others' physical and spiritual wellbeing and jeopardizes our own and others' physical and spiritual security.

Of course, sinful deeds are not the only consideration.  It's also important that we …

B. Avoid and stop speaking sinful words that show contempt for God's Law.  "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me."  Perhaps most of us adults said and heard that little ditty when we were children.  Maybe many of you children and adolescents here today have heard or even said it yourselves.  But, you know, it's really not true, is it?  Unkind words, angry words, hateful words, false words, slanderous words, defaming words, and other similar words spoken to or about someone else disrespect God's Law and inflict injury and pain.

Our Savior Jesus Christ experienced the severest hurt inflicted by sinful words when His disciple Peter denied Him and the Roman soldiers mocked Him.  However, Jesus spoke words of rich love when He said,

(Luke 23:35) "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Jesus communicates that wonderful soul-cleansing and life-restoring message of mercy and grace to us also through the written pages of His Holy Word, the consecrated bread and wine of His Holy Supper, and the verbal cleansing of His Holy Absolution.  He washes away our sinful words and deeds with His holy, precious blood and replaces them with His words and deeds of mercy and grace.  That's what [happens/happened] when Pastor Marks [speaks/spoke] the absolution in this weekend's Saturday evening and Sunday early morning worship services, words that said,

(LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK, Pew Edition.  CPH, 2006.  Page 203) "Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins.  As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the  Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Because of that we are now free to …

Transition: LOVE THE LORD BY SELF-SACRIFICIALLY LOVING ONE ANOTHER, something we do when we Resist and Desist Sinful Deeds and Words as well as when we Resist and Desist Sinful Attitudes and Thoughts.

II. Resist and Desist Sinful Attitudes and Thoughts. [15-18a: "You shall do no injustice in court.  You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.  You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.  You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people ... ."] Jesus Himself declared,

(Matt 15:19) "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." 

as well as untold numbers of other sins.  In fact, St. Mark told us what grudge leads to when he recorded that,

(Mark 6:19) "… Herodias had a grudge against him [John the Baptizer] and wanted to put him to death."

In the face of such and in addition to the deeds and words spoken about earlier, let us strive to …

A. Avoid and stop harboring sinful attitudes that contradict God's Law.  Just what are sinful attitudes?  They are the emotional feelings of jealousy, envy, hatred, and anger that fill the heart, clog the mind, and influence wrong actions.  They often cause us to do and say sinful things that hurt and harm other people as well as damage and destroy peace and unity among people.  We find them included in the catalogue list of Satan-inspired actions and feelings that St. Paul wrote to the Galatians and we read two Sundays ago,

(Gal 5:19-21) "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these."

Well, we've dealt with sinful words, deeds, and attitudes.  We'll now complete the body of this sermon with the encouragement to …

B. Avoid and stop thinking sinful thoughts that compromise God's Law.  Do you ever find yourself thinking about things, perhaps daydreaming (maybe during a sermon)?  If so, what things do you find yourself pondering?  Are they things of the body or things of the soul, things of the world or things of heaven, things of this temporal life or things of eternal life, material things or spiritual things?  St. Paul wrote about his own former way of thinking before and after he became spiritually mature,

(1 Cor 13:10-11) "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."

The task that we're trying to accomplish often influences and even determines our thinking.  In fact, we often waste our thinking activity on things that are negative, non-productive, and even evil.  We think critical and condemning thoughts about other persons.  We think wasteful thoughts about unnecessary things that are of no benefit whatever.  We even think evil thoughts of ways to get revenge as well as ways to compromise or embarrass someone in front of others.

St. Paul offered some very beneficial advice about our thinking activity when he wrote,

(Phil 4:8) "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

In other words, strive by the power of the Holy Spirit to fill your mind with God-pleasing sanctified thoughts that serve God-pleasing sanctified ends.  In so doing, eliminate Satan-pleasing sinful thoughts that serve Satan-pleasing sinful ends.  Oh, those God-pleasing sanctified thoughts may not be nearly as fun and exciting as those Satan-pleasing sinful ones, but they certainly are more wholesomely productive and lead to words and actions that build up instead of tear down, that unify instead of separate, that encourage instead of discourage, and that honor God instead of Satan.

Such thoughts ultimately lead to Christ-like attitudes, words, and actions that communicate His compassionate care and concern to others.  That is, they become expressions guided by the Holy Spirit whereby we …

Transition: LOVE THE LORD BY SELF-SACRIFICIALLY LOVING ONE ANOTHER, something we do when we Resist and Desist Sinful Deeds and Words as well as when we Resist and Desist Sinful Attitudes and Thoughts.

CONCLUSION: St. Paul wrote the following words to the Colossians in today's Epistle Reading,

(Col 1:3-5, 12-14) "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.  ... giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

It's really a very simple thing.  Loving the Lord by self-sacrificially loving one another is nothing more (or less) than our Spirit-given faith in action.  It's an activity of thanksgiving that plays itself out by thanks living.  It's recognizing that Jesus Christ dwells within us by means of our baptism through which we died with Him and arose with Him and now live for Him.  It's realizing that we don't have to hide in the shadows of darkness but we live freely in the light of Jesus Christ, who has redeemed and forgiven us, thereby making us new creatures of light and life.  It's celebrating the unity that we have in Jesus Christ, something that we express when we join together at the Lord's Table to dine on His real body and blood that God gives us in, with, and under the consecrated sacramental elements of bread and wine.

Jesus posed the following penetrating question; the self-righteous lawyer gave the following correct answer; and Jesus responded with the following challenging admonition in today's Holy Gospel Reading:

(Luke 10:36-37) "'Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?' He said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise.'"

Hey, that's the basic bottom line … be merciful to others even as Christ, who, incidentally, is the divine "Good Samaritan," has been and continues to be merciful to us.  What more then can be said than …

God grant it all for the sake of Jesus Christ, His humble Son, our holy Savior.  Amen.

In the name of the Triune God—Father,  Son, and Holy Spirit.  [Amen.]



This sermon is not copyrighted. It is God's gift to His Church for free and unrestricted use through me who am one of His many faithful servants. Please exercise the common courtesy of properly acknowledging its source should you use part or all of it for any purposes.



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