by Anne Lang Bundy
“Should you go to the person who needs you more or the person you love?”
~ Renatta Szukhent, Michigan
We are to love everyone. Everyone has needs we can meet. And the Bible's directions on how we respond to others is usually put in the context of relationship. So let’s look at priorities with one another based on relationship.
The greatest commandment gives God primary priority. Only when we first love Him with all heart, soul, mind, and strength are we able to truly love others or effectively minister to them.
The second commandment says love neighbor as self. Like the airline directive to don your own oxygen mask before assisting others, nurturing our own souls in God’s Word, Spirit and love enables us to love others equally.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:4 (NKJV)
Here are priorities set by the Bible:
First: Spouse (with whom we’re one flesh, part of “self”) –
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
(Ephesians 5:28-29 NKJV;
also see Matthew 19:4-6 & 1 Corinthians 6:18)
Second: Immediate Household (parents and children) –
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV;
also see Ephesians 6:1-3 & 2 Corinthians 12:14)
Third: Household of Faith (Christians; called “brother” or “brethren”) –
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:10 NKJV;
also see Ephesians 4:1-6 & Romans 12:4-5)
Last: All Unbelievers (as the Lord brings them into our lives) –
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all ...
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NKJV;
also see 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 & Luke 10:29-37)
[LATE ADDENDUM TO POST: – There is actually one more category of people the Bible places after this: the person who claims to be a Christian but lives in flagrant and continuing immorality, committing serious sin without repentance, bringing disgrace to the name of Christ.
See Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.]
The unbeliever might seem to have greater need for love and ministry than the believer, but the Bible gives preference to other Christians, with whom we are to be united.
We might seem judgmental to categorize others as "Christian" or "unbeliever," but the Bible makes that distinction, and also between "judgment" which condemns and "discernment" which protects.
No one is able to meet all the needs of others, no matter how close their relationship. The Lord alone is able to meet all human need. Maintaining a close relationship with the Lord enables us to discern how He desires to meet their needs through us.
And incidently, even God needs us—He needs the praise, worship, and fellowship which flow naturally out of our love for Him.
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When she posed the above question, Renatta also asked about the difference between religion and spirituality. Next week's Q&A will tackle this.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: 21stcenturystrategiesinc.com