Unlimited: Love Does No Harm
Sep 12, 2023 109
Love does no harm to a neighbor (Romans 13:10a).
The apostle Paul here gives us another way of understanding what love is. It is interesting that Paul defines love in a negative way: by explaining what love isn’t. He tells us that anything that does harm to a neighbour isn’t love.
Defining things that are difficult to define by saying what it isn’t was an accepted practice in first century Judaism. Paul gives us another example of this in Romans 14:23, when he writes that,
everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Anything that does harm to a neighbour isn’t love.
When we see the meaning of this Jewish way of expression, we can understand that what Paul is saying is that our love is expressed by greatly blessing our neighbours. Paul is telling us that our love for others is to be powerfully active, and not merely a passive “feeling.”
Another element about which Paul writes here is the “neighbour.” We tend to think of our “neighbours” as “the nice people who live in the house next door.” However, Jesus taught that our “neighbours” likewise include those people who are most unlike us, and whom we despise, and who might even be of a different religion or race, or from a different country (Luke 10:25–37.) These are the people whom, if we have love in our hearts, we will bless.
Reread the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37. Notice how the priest and the Levite caused harm to their neighbour by not helping him. Have you ever caused harm to a neighbour? What would you do differently today?