When Jesus spoke, people often tested Him to see what He meant. Even if He was crystal clear, some people sought loopholes they could exploit. Here's a devo you can use with your kids to help them love their neighbors.The Backdrop
In Luke 10
, Jesus was given a test. It wasn't so much an exam, but more a test of boundaries and limits. In fact, it's the kind of test we give Jesus every time we toy with questions such as, "How far is too far?"The What
The passage below is a familiar exchange, but read it as if you're reading it for the first time. Try to notice as much detail about the questioner as you can.
"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?' He answered, '"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself."' 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'" (Luke 10:25-29
A couple things that you may have noticed about the questioner:
• He had an ulterior motive; he was testing Jesus, not seeking a legitimate answer.
• In fact, he was asking a question to which he apparently already knew the answer.
• He seemed to be looking for loopholes.The So What
Beecause we know the lawyer had an ulterior motive, there are many ways to interpret his question. One way is simply this: What's the least amount I can do to inherit eternal life? When Jesus' answer indicated the road to eternal life included the word all (as in all your heart, all you soul, all your strength and all your mind) the lawyer pushed for one more loophole in asking for a definition of "my neighbor." (By the way, Jesus' answer to the lawyer's question about his neighbor was the story of the good Samaritan. You may want to check it out in Luke 10:30-37
While that interpretation of the lawyer's question may sound a bit crass, here's the thing: We are fully capable of behaving just as this lawyer. We ask the same type of questions when we find ourselves asking questions such as: "How far is too far?" or, "Should I base my tithe on income before taxes or after taxes?" Deep down, we know the answers to these questions, but we ask them in hopes of an easy way out.
It's easy to get ho-hum in our walk with God; before we know it we are striving for minimum requirements, if that. We might find ourselves trying to carry a bit of sin around in hopes that neither Jesus nor anyone else will notice.