For serious students:
Buy the companion book in Paperback format from Amazon:
The Promise: God's Everlasting Covenant, by Gerhard F. Hasel
Or download the Kindle version. for immediate reading.
Lesson 7 *August 9-15
Read for This Week’s Study: Matt. 9:36, Mark 10:21, Luke 10:30-37, Matt. 25:31-46, Luke 6:32-35, John 15:4-12.
A new commandment I give to you, that you
love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another
(John 13:34, NKJV).
Contrary to what many think, the
command to love our neighbor
is not something newly taught by the New Testament. In the Old
Testament, God already had commanded His people to
neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18, NKJV)
love [the stranger] as yourself (Lev.
Why, then, did Jesus say,
A new commandment I give
to you (NKJV)? The newness of Jesus’
instruction was in that it had a new measure:
as I have loved
you (NKJV). Before the incarnation of
Christ, men did not have a full manifestation of God’s love. Now,
through His selfless life and death, Jesus demonstrated the real and
deepest meaning of love.
Love was the element in which Christ moved and
walked and worked. He came to embrace the world in the arms of His
love. . . . We are to follow the example set by Christ, and make Him
our pattern, until we shall have the same love for others as He has
manifested for us. — Ellen G. White, Our Father
Cares, p. 27.
This week, as we consider Jesus’ tender, sympathetic, considerate, and compassionate life, let our hearts be touched and molded by His divine active principle of love, which is the watermark of true Christianity.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 16.
Sunday August 10
In spite of being constantly under Satan’s fiercest attacks,
Jesus lived an unselfish life of loving service. His priority was
always centered on other people, not on Himself. From childhood to the
cross, He showed a constant tender disposition to minister to others.
His willing hands were ever ready to relieve every case of suffering He
perceived. He lovingly cared for those who were considered by society
to be of little value, such as children, women, foreigners, lepers, and
tax collectors. He
did not come to be served, but to serve
(Matt. 20:28, NKJV). Therefore, He
about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil
(Acts 10:38, NKJV). His sympathy and merciful
interest for the well-being of others were more important for Him than
satisfying His own physical need for food or shelter.
Indeed, even at the cross He cared more for His mother than He did
about His own sufferings (John 19:25-27).
What do Matthew 9:36, 14:14, and 15:32 teach us about how Jesus looked at people?
Jesus was sensitive to the needs of people, and He truly cared about them. His heart reached out with compassion to great multitudes that were weary and scattered. He was moved with compassion toward helpless individuals, such as the two blind men near Jericho (Matt. 20:34), a pleading leper (Mark 1:40-41), and a widow who had just lost her only son (Luke 7:12-13).
What principle of action guided Jesus as He related to different people? See Mark 10:21 and John 11:5.
Every act of mercy, every miracle, every word of Jesus was
motivated by His infinite love, an unwavering and permanent love. At
the end of His life, He vividly showed His disciples that, having loved
them from the beginning,
He loved them to the end (John
13:1, NKJV). With His death on the cross, He demonstrated to
the entire universe that selfless love triumphs over egoism. In the
light of Calvary, it is clear that the principle of self-renouncing
love is the only valid foundation of life for earth and heaven.
Greater love has no one
than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John
15:13, NKJV). How do you understand what this means in daily,
practical terms? How does one, day by day, do this?
Monday August 11
To live like Jesus means to show the same love He
demonstrated. He illustrated this kind of love through the parable of
the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), which He told
in dialogue with a lawyer. The lawyer summarized our duty to God and
fellow human beings:
(Luke 10:27, NKJV).
The lawyer knew His Bible well (he quoted by heart Deuteronomy 6:5 and
Leviticus 19:18), but he must have felt guilty for not demonstrating
love to his neighbor. In an attempt to justify himself, he asked Jesus:
You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength,
and with all your mind, and
your neighbor as
Who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:29, NKJV).
did Jesus explain who is our
neighbor? What implications does the parable of the good Samaritan have
for us? See Luke 10:30-37. How is the commandment
love your neighbor as yourself related to the
golden rule? Matt. 7:12.
To the question:
who is my neighbor? Jesus
answered, basically, that our neighbor is every person who needs our
help. Thus, instead of asking:
what can my neighbor do for me?
we should ask:
what can I do for my neighbor?
Jesus went far beyond the usual negative rendering of this
rule at that time:
do not do to others what you yourself
dislike. By presenting it in a positive way, He addressed not
only what we need to avoid but especially what we have to do. We need
especially to remember that this principle does not tell us to treat
others as they treat us. After all, it’s easy to be kind to those who
are kind to us or nasty to those who are nasty to us; most people can
do that. Instead, our love toward our neighbor should always be
independent of the way our neighbor treats us.
Think of someone who has treated you in a bad way. How have you treated them in return? What does Christ’s example, and how He treated those who mistreated Him, teach you about how you could better relate to those who don’t treat you kindly?
Tuesday August 12
What is the basic message of Matthew 25:31-46?
At the final day there will be many surprises. Those at the right hand of the Son of Man never imagined that their manifestation of unselfish love would be so decisive. Christ will not commend them for the eloquent sermons they have delivered, the valuable work they have done, or the generous donations they have given. Instead, Christ shall welcome them into heaven for the little caring things done to the least of His brethren.
Those at the left-hand will also be surprised at the reason
given by the King for His verdict. Some of them will even say:
Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your
name, and done many wonders in Your name? (Matt.
7:22, NKJV). Although these are desirable deeds, without a
loving attitude they are worthless. These people professed to serve
Christ, but the Lord never knew them (Matt. 7:23)
because they never really loved Him or His brethren. They didn’t
practice the principles of true religion (see James 1:27).
Commentators have suggested various interpretations regarding who are
least of these My brethren (Matt. 25:40). It
is important to determine who they are in order to know the extent of
our Christian responsibility. Some interpreters argue that Jesus’
brethren are the apostles and other Christian missionaries.
They find support for this view in Matthew 10:40-42 and conclude that
the fate of all human beings depends on how they treat Christian
missionaries. Other scholars claim, based on Matthew 12:48-50, that
least brethren are His followers in general.
There is no doubt that all the disciples of Jesus are His brethren; but
the scope of Jesus’ words seems to be even wider. Christ
Himself with every child of humanity. . . . He is the Son of man, and
thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam. — Ellen G.
Desire of Ages, p. 638.
Think of a time when you were in desperate need of help, and someone came to your aid. What did that aid mean to you in your suffering and pain? How did that experience show why it’s so important that we be willing to help others who are in need in any way we can?
Wednesday August 13
The supreme proof of genuine Christianity is loving our
enemies. Jesus established this high standard in contrast with the
prevalent idea of His time. From the commandment,
love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18, NKJV), many
had inferred something the Lord never said or planned: you
shall hate your enemy. Of course, that wasn’t implied in the
In what practical ways is love toward our enemies manifested, according to Christ? See Luke 6:27-28.
An adversary can show us enmity in three different ways: by a
hostile attitude (
hate you), through bad words (
you) and with abusive actions (
spitefully use you
and persecute you [Matt. 5:44, NKJV]). To
this threefold expression of enmity, Christ instructs us to respond
with three manifestations of love: doing good actions to them (
good to them), speaking well of them (
them), and interceding before God for them (
them). The Christian’s answer to hostility and antagonism is to
evil with good (Rom. 12:21).
Notice: Jesus requests us first to love our foes and then, as a result, to demonstrate this love through good actions, kind words, and intercessory prayer. Without heaven-inspired love, those actions, words, and prayers would be an offensive and hypocritical forgery of true Christianity.
What reasons did Jesus mention to explain why we have to love our enemies? See Luke 6:32-35.
In order to help us to understand this high command, the Lord
used three arguments. First, we need to live above the low standards of
the world. Even sinners love each other, and even criminals help each
other. If following Christ doesn’t raise us to live and love in a way
superior to the virtue of the children of this world, what would its
value be? Second, God will reward us for loving our enemies; even
though we do not love for the reward, He will grant it graciously to
us. And third, this type of love is an evidence of our close communion
with our heavenly Father, who
is kind to the unthankful and
evil (Luke 6:35, NKJV).
Thursday August 14
Jesus’ teachings set such a high ideal of a selfless, loving life that most of us probably feel overwhelmed and discouraged. How can we, who are selfish by nature, love our neighbor unselfishly? Moreover, is it even possible for us to love our enemies? From a human point of view it is utterly impossible.
But the Lord would never ask us to love and serve those who
are hateful and unlovable without providing us also with the means to
This standard is not one to which we cannot
attain. In every command or injunction that God gives there is a
promise, the most positive, underlying the command. God has made
provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this
for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His
grace. — Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the
Blessing, p. 76.
What is the promise underlying the command to love our enemies? It is the assurance that God is kind and merciful to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35-36), which includes us. We can love our enemies because God loved us first, even though we were His enemies (Rom. 5:10). When we daily reaffirm our acceptance of His loving sacrifice for us on the cross, His self-denying love pervades our lives. The more we realize and experience the Lord’s love for us, the more His love will flow from us to others, even to our enemies.
What is the relationship between abiding in Christ and His love, and loving our neighbor? See John 15:4-12.
Our daily need is not only to accept Christ’s death for us again but to surrender our will to Him and abide in Him. In the way Jesus Himself did not seek His own will but the will of the Father (John 5:30), so we need to depend on Jesus and His will. For without Him, we can do nothing.
As we choose every day to submit ourselves to Jesus, He lives
in us and through us. Then
it is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20, NKJV) and
changes my egocentric attitudes into a selfless loving life.
Read again John 15:4-12. What is the joy that Jesus is talking about there? How can we experience for ourselves the joy that comes from serving him, even when we don’t necessarily feel happy about our immediate circumstances?
Friday August 15Further Study: Ellen G. White,
The Good Samaritan,pp. 497-505; and
The Least of These My Brethren,pp. 637-641, in The Desire of Ages.
All around us are poor, tried souls that need
sympathizing words and helpful deeds. There are widows who need
sympathy and assistance. There are orphans whom Christ has bidden His
followers receive as a trust from God. . . . They are members of God’s
great household, and Christians as His stewards are responsible for
them. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s
Object Lessons, pp. 386, 387.
Their souls, He says,
require at thine hand.
It is not the greatness of the work which we do, but
the love and fidelity with which we do it, that wins the approval of
the Saviour. — Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places,
enemieswhen they are nothing but annoying, unfriendly creatures; such as difficult coworkers, rude acquaintances, or ungrateful neighbors. That’s hard enough. But what about true enemies, people who have done you harm or who intended to do you or your family harm? How are we to love them? What consolation is there, if any, in the fact that we are not commanded to love them
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