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Love Has a Context

Against the contemporary American backdrop of Ke$ha singing about love as a drug and Disney platitudes about “true love,” it’s stunning and more than a little uncomfortable to learn what “true love” really looks like. Here’s the context of the love command in Leviticus 19:18 (which is cited repeatedly in the NT):

You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

So there it is. If I don’t reprove my neighbor, I myself will be guilty of lack of love. This requirement is obviously not a blank check to get “all up in others’ business,” even if the command requires an approach to community that would make most contemporary people comfortable. Gal 6:1 applies here: it’s when sin clearly arises that action is required.

I’m not sure how much that will help my kids next time we have some discipline in the house, nor the next time we face a disciplinary situation at church. But if we meditate on this aspect of love, if we teach others about this aspect of love, and if we see Jesus’ rebuke and reproof as acts of love (and not just love for truth but for people), perhaps we can get there…