Friday, May 27 — Galatians 5:13-15
Being saved by God’s grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8) does not set us free from having to obey God’s law. Instead, God’s grace sets us free so that we can obey God’s law and live the life that God intends for us, a life of joy and abundance, a life of grace and peace: a life of love.
- Review your words and actions over the past few days. How well have you obeyed God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself”? (Galatians 5:14). What would like to do differently next week? What will you do differently next week?
- Prayer: Almighty God, do not let me use the gift of freedom for my own purposes. Instead, transform my life so that I can obey your great commandment to love my neighbor. Amen.
Thursday, May 26 — Romans 13:8-10
According to his letters and the tradition of the Church, the Apostle Paul took Jesus’ teaching and example quite seriously. Writing to the Church in Rome he insisted that all of the commandments “are summed up in this word: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Romans 13:9).
- What is the single commandment that guides your life? What would change in your life if “love your neighbor as yourself” was your primary guide for your words and actions?
- Prayer: Merciful God, I confess that I do not always obey your teaching and love my neighbors as myself. Forgive me I pray. Transform my life according to your word. Amen.
Wednesday, May 25 — Luke 10:25-37
When Jesus was tested by a lawyer (an expert in Jewish law), he (Jesus) affirmed that God’s primary desire is that we love God and love our neighbor. But the lawyer asked a very important follow-up question: “who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Like the lawyer, we want to set limits on God’s requirement that we love our neighbor. What we discover is that Jesus’ definition of a neighbor is quite different than ours.
- Remember: Samaritans and Israelites had a contentious relationship. They would more likely have been enemies than “neighbors.” So, how will you embody Jesus’ teaching in your life today?
- Prayer: God of Love, teach me to see other people the way you see them. Teach me to treat others the way you want me to treat them. Teach me to be a good neighbor. Amen.
Tuesday, May 24 — Deuteronomy 15:7-11
Leviticus 19 is not the only chapter in the Torah (the first 5 books in the Old Testament) that describes God’s intentions for relationships with neighbors. Deuteronomy 15 insists that God’s people not be “hard-hearted or tight-fisted” (Deuteronomy 15:7). Instead, we are to “give liberally and be ungrudging” (Deuteronomy 15:10). The message is clear: God desires mercy, compassion, and generosity.
- What do you think about this teaching? How will you respond?
- Prayer: Compassionate God, remind me of your amazing grace and inspire in me the desire to extend your mercy and compassion to my neighbors and people in need. Amen.
Monday, May 23 — Leviticus 19:9-18
The Old Testament Book of Leviticus has been called the “manual of the priests” and was traditionally used as a resource for teaching Jewish children about the Jewish faith. It contains laws that encompass all aspects of individual and community life in Israel: everything from worship rituals to dietary regulations. In chapter 19, we learn about living a holy life.
- At the heart of the chapter are these familiar words: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). How might these words guide your actions this week? How will you love your neighbor today?
- Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for teaching me your ways. Help me to understand what is important to you. Give me courage to live the holy life you desire for me. Amen.
Saturday, May 21 — Galatians 5:22-26
In contrast to the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. Rather than a to-do list for a self-help project, this list outlines the expected outcome of a healthy relationship with God that is nurtured in worship, prayer, service, study, and other spiritual disciplines. The fruit of the Spirit are God’s intention for our life and an indicator that our relationship with God is on the right track.
- Notice that the fruit of the Spirit begins with love. Using Galatians 5:22-23, review the past week. Where have you seen signs of God’s Spirit in your life?
- Prayer: God of Spirit and Truth, I desire to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life. Help me grow in faith and trust in the life-changing power of your love and grace. Amen.
Friday, May 20 — Galatians 5:16-21
After reminding the Galatians to begin with love, Paul goes on to warn them about the dangers of choosing to gratify what he calls the desires of the flesh. (Note that when Paul uses the word “flesh” he’s not talking about the human body, but rather that part of us that opposes and resists God’s Spirit). The works of the flesh he lists are what come out of us when we do not begin with love.
- Using Paul’s list in Galatians 5:19-21, reflect on your life. Where do you need to grow?
- Prayer: God of Grace, thank you for helping me see myself more clearly. Remove anything and everything from my life that opposes and resists your Spirit. Amen.
Thursday, May 19 — Galatians 5:13-15
The apostle Paul also echoes the teaching of Jesus and quotes Leviticus 19:18. (You’ll find another example in Romans 13:9). One of the themes of the letter to the Galatians is that God has given us the freedom to make decisions about how we live our lives, and that our decision-making should begin with love.
- What might change in your life if the process of making every decision (large and small) began with love? What might change in your most important relationships?
- Prayer: Eternal God, I am aware that I do not always make decisions by beginning with love. Love is not always my highest priority. Please forgive me. Amen.
Wednesday, May 18 — James 2:8-13
The early church took Jesus’ words and example very seriously. Following on Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, James also quotes Leviticus 19:18 and calls it the “royal law” (James 2:8). He reminds his readers to begin with love amid his warnings against showing partiality and discriminating against people who are poor. He goes on to insist that we will be judged, first and foremost by our obedience to the law of love and mercy.
- If God really does expect us to begin with love, how well are you doing?
- Prayer: God of Mercy, thank you for showing me mercy that I do not deserve and love that I cannot earn. Help me to fulfill your law and show mercy to all. Amen.
Tuesday, May 17 — Matthew 22:34-40
We usually refer to this passage as the Great Commandment. Jesus is asked, “which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:36) His response: love God and love your neighbor. However, loving God and neighbor is not just the great commandment, loving God is the first commandment (see Matthew 22:38). Being the first commandment means that it is the highest priority. It’s where we begin. It’s where we start our relationship with God. If we do nothing else, we do this: we begin with love.
- What, if anything, is preventing you from beginning with love?
- Prayer: Loving God, I know that loving you and loving my neighbor is my highest priority. Help me to remove everything in my life that prevents me from beginning with love. Amen.