Money 6: Love Your Neighbor

Watch the video or read the lesson text … or both.

Lesson Text

Scripture reading:

Matthew 22:39
Matthew 7:12
John 13:35 
Luke 10:25-37

Discussion:

We have already looked at Matthew 22:35-40 in a previous lesson. The purpose of this lesson is to go a little deeper on the second greatest commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Neighbors are not limited only to those in close proximity to us. Jesus clearly instructed us that our neighbors are everyone with whom we come into contact. We express love by doing to others as we would have them do to us. Matthew 7:12 The world knows we belong to the Lord by the love we show to one another. John 13:35

Is your lender a neighbor?

Is it love to fail to repay debts legally owed to a creditor? How would you feel if you were the creditor? As Christians, we both have to love our neighbors as ourselves and treat others as we want to be treated.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 illustrates this point and defines neighbor. Who is my neighbor? Jesus answers this question by showing that even a random stranger (a Samaritan, no less) passing by on the road is a neighbor.

The lender has to be included in this definition. Jesus does not give us liberty to exclude anyone. Jesus gives us the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) and the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18) as examples of borrower-lender relationships. To faithfully discharge our duties as a borrower is what Jesus requires. (The same is true if we are the lender.) This comes from the heart first and foremost.

We love our neighbor as ourselves when we repay what we have borrowed and do not defraud those who deal with us. God is going to charge to our account unpaid debts and broken promises with lenders and others. There may be times when we have to set aside other commandments we find in Scripture to ensure we fulfill the second greatest commandment.

There are some who intentionally set fire to their house to collect insurance proceeds. Once, I knew of a courier truck driver who claimed to have delivered a package and fraudulently had someone sign for it but did not deliver the package. In both instances, the excuse was the same. “No one is hurt, the insurance will cover it.”

Is the insurance company your neighbor? Are we fulfilling our responsibility to love our neighbor when we engage in practices like this? I know what my answer is.

We cannot properly love our neighbor if we harbor attitudes such as this. Are there weightier provisions in the law of Scripture that we must follow when aiming at a Biblical understanding of personal finance? Remember, Jesus said very plainly that all of the law and the prophets hang on the two greatest commandments – love God and love your neighbor.

This means, anything we try to do with our money must first pass these two tests – does it love God and does it love my neighbor. Only then can we try to give an order of priorities to financial principles.