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08
Nov
2020

The Priority of Loving People

by Dr. David Jeremiah

Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Within the same priority of love there’s a second application. We’re to love our neighbors—and we have 7.7 billion of them! We can’t know or personally care for each of them, but the Lord knows exactly how to lead us to those we need to serve.

Paul Lee, a police officer, spent years apprehending criminals and witnessing mind-numbing evils. He became so calloused that he said, “I felt nothing. I hated everybody. Nobody told you the truth.”

Paul’s marriage ended, and he descended into heavy drinking and constant cynicism. “I knew the life I was living…was passing before my eyes like a bad B-movie,” he recalled.

Then his mother died. As he showered and prepared for her funeral, he thought of her dedication to Christ. “I knew the life I was living was totally wrong,” he said. “I had faulted God for 20 years. But the death of my mother totally broke me and brought me to the lowest point in my life.”

There under the steaming water of the shower, he said three things that his criminals often said to him: “I give up. I surrender. I throw in the towel.” In an instant, he made Jesus the Lord of his life.

Shortly afterward, Paul joined the Fellowship of Christian Police Officers (FCPO). He felt a deep compassion for other cops suffering what he’d felt—“The feeling of aloneness and loneliness and that nobody really cares.” Now he ministers to police officers in a way few can. He loves them as only a brother in blue can do.

“With a biblical mindset, you realize that God has put you there for His purposes, to carry out His mission, whatever that might be,” Paul said.

Paul and his fellow members of the FCPO understand that Christian police officers are perfectly positioned to reach out to their colleagues and the public they serve. “We’re on the mission field,” he said. “You don’t have to beat people over the head with the Bible. You just keep the compassion of Christ. Your purpose is far greater than just throwing somebody in jail.”

Loving others is sharing the compassion of Christ with the people around you.

The Bible says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law…. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8, 10). And the apostle Paul wrote, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, men in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14).

As I was finishing this book, our world was rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. You know the details of the horrors and devastation caused by this plague. We’re all living through it and have been affected by it.

As in all calamities and tragedies, we’ve had choices to make. The people of our congregation chose to use this pandemic as an opportunity to love our neighbors. With the leadership of David St. John, one of our senior staff members, we began providing food for people in our community. Each week we distributed over fifty thousand pounds of food. We fed one thousand families with basic food, living essentials and a gallon of milk each. More than sixty of our fellow believers gathered every Friday, donned their masks and gloves, and put this gift of love in the trunks of cars as people in need drove through our campus.

Hundreds of emails, letters, and phone calls helped us realize what this meant to the recipients. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this initiative was the absolute, wild joy I witnessed in the lives of the people doing the giving. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive, and loving your neighbor is not something you feel…it’s something you do!

For as James 2:8 says, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.”

But keeping priorities correctly aligned is a daily challenge. The first step is knowing what’s at the top of the list. Once that’s settled, other things fall into place more naturally. What comes first is clear: love—for God, for others, and then for ourselves.

Watch Dr. David Jeremiah on LIFE TODAY this Tuesday and Thursday. Taken from Forward by Dr. David Jeremiah. Copyright ©2020 by David P. Jeremiah. Used by permission of W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson.