THE ROYAL LAW
Sunday Morning Sermon
February 7, 1999
Fair Avenue Baptist Church
We want to once again welcome you to our “Love Your Neighbor” Sunday. This is the first Sunday in our Month of Love where each Sunday we have designated someone special to love.
The Bible has a lot to say about neighbors. In fact, the word “neighbour” is found 100 times. And in most cases, the teaching found concerns the treatment of our neighbors.
In the Book of Exodus we find several passages concerning our neighbours. In fact, one of the commonly called Ten Commandments has to do with our neighbor.
Ex. 20:16, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
Ex. 21:14 talks of the accidental death of a neighbour.
Exodus Chapter 22 talks about delivering to a neighbour, trespass against a neighbour, and borrowing from a neighbour. (Vs. 7, 9, 10, 14)
The Book of Leviticus has several verses concerning neighbours.
Lev. 6:2 talks about lying to a neighbour.
In Leviticus Chapter 19 the Bible speaks of defrauding a neighbour, judging a neighbour, standing against a neighbour, rebuking a neighbour, and loving your neighbour. (Vs. 13, 15, 16, 17, 18)
In Lev. 24:19 it speaks of causing a blemish in a neighbour.
Psa. 101:5 speaks of slandering a neighbour.
Prov. 3:29 says not to devise evil against thy neighbour.
Prov. 24:28 teaches us not to be a witness against our neighbour.
Hab. 2:15 gives a clear warning about giving a neighbour strong drink.
Many, many passages in the Bible speak concerning neighbours.
Jesus spoke about neighbours several times in the New Testament.
Matt. 5:43, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour,” quoting from Lev. 19:18.
There He goes again, quoting from the Old Testament. Doesn’t He know that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us today? Doesn’t He know that the Old Testament isn’t for those of us in the church age?
Matt. 19:19, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Matt. 22:39, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Mark 12:31, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Mark 12:33, “...and to love his neighbour as himself.”
Luke 10:27, “...and thy neighbour as thyself.”
Six times our Lord reminds us of this great Bible truth.
Paul, in the 13th chapter of Romans, reiterating what the Lord said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (V. 9)
Paul, in Gal. 5:15, emphasizes it once again, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
I get the impression that the Bible expects us to love our neighbours.
And not only just to love our neighbours, but to love them as much as we love ourselves.
But our text verse in James 2:8 uses the most colorful and vivid language.
“If ye fulfil the ROYAL LAW according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.”
The ROYAL LAW!
According to the Scripture!
How are we doing?
Do we love our neighbour?
I mean, do we really love our neighbour?
I wonder how many of us even know our neighbours?
I wonder if we know the names and addresses of several of our neighbours?
I don’t know my neighbors as well as I should, but I do know their names. I’ve met them from time to time.
Mrs. Carlie Martin and her daughter live next door on the south, and Kent Clement of Clement-Keel Funeral Home lives next door on the north. Glen Wilson, who used to sing with the Psalms Quartet, lives two doors down on the north. The Autry’s live across the street.
Dr. Jerry Dickson lives a few doors down on my same side of the street. Dr. “Bob” McLeroy lives north of us a few houses across the street. And Jimmy Jack Hatcher, the most prominent attorney in Cooke County, lives down on the corner.
I’m afraid we have fallen victim to one of the problems of our society where we do not know our neighbours.
I’m sure many of us remember the days where everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone else.
Of course, we have evolved into such a mobile society where people do not live in the same neighborhoods for life.
There are not many people who live in the same house for 10 - 15 or even 20 years anymore.
I would dare say that there is not a person under the age of 60 who has been living in the same house for the last 20 years.
In fact, many of us have lived in several different places over the past 20 years.
With everyone moving in and out so many times, we seldom get to know our neighbours. In the house across the street from us, three different families have lived there in less than four years.
So, how are we going to honor the Word of God and love our neighbors?
Nine references in the Bible tell us to love our neighbor, and not only to love our neighbor, but to love them as ourselves.
But how can we love someone we don’t know, or at best, hardly know.
Could it be that we need to examine ourselves and try to figure out why we aren’t loving our neighbors as commanded in Scripture? I think that is exactly the case.
The Bible even calls it “the royal law.”
We may not be wicked people,
We may not be evil,
We may not be criminals,
But I’m afraid we have been disobedient.
The strength of our country used to lie in the fact that our communities were strong.
But that is no longer the case.
Our communities are weak because we, as Christians, have failed to live by Biblical standards.
Not only do we not love our neighbors,
We don’t even know them.
And not only do we not know them, we don’t care if we know them.
The truth is that we have virtually ignored the teachings of our Lord and Saviour and have failed to truly love our neighbor.
When was the last time we did something for our neighbor WITHOUT having had to be asked?
When was the last time we did something for our neighbor, period?
I come to church,
I give my offering,
I read my Bible occasionally,
I pray from time to time,
I try to live a decent life,
YET, you want me to love my neighbor.
NO, I don’t want you to love your neighbor, Jesus does, and He told us in Scripture.
The challenge for today is to, first of all, know our neighbors. That is where we need to start.
Then, after we get to know our neighbors, we need to start acting like a Christian, meaning we need to love them.
And not only love them, but to love them as much as we love ourselves.
Let’s close with Matt. 22:36-40.
The second greatest commandment is not to read the Bible,
or attend church,
IT IS TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR.
And, don’t miss this, we loved ourselves enough to trust Christ as our personal Saviour, shouldn’t we love our neighbors enough to tell them about the Lord?
According to Bible standards,
According to the very words of Jesus,
DO WE LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR?
It is “the royal law.”