Love Your Neighbor

By Sophia Christiaan

Jesus replied, ” ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor ‘ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 NLT

We must trust God to help us show love to those we do not feel love for, since Godly love is not something we feel, but something we do.

In order to become perfect in this area of our lives, or in other words become like Jesus Christ, we need to allow God to groom us in character, holiness, maturity, and love. This is a process, just as we expect behaviors to develop in people, from baby-stage to a child, to teenager and adult. How fast we grow in unconditionally loving others, depends on our stage of spiritual development.

Becoming perfect in love for everybody, does not mean that we will not fail at times, but that we are willing to admit our wrong doings, and continue to allow God to correct, heal, restore, and mature us. We then learn more and more how to tap into, and receive God’s love for ourselves and our neighbor!

Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. Peter 1:5-8 NLT

Here is Jesus giving an illustration to a religious teacher of real love in action!

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 

The man answered, ” ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied with an illustration: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 

By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. 

Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’ “

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Luke 10:25-37 NLT

Our neighbor is anyone of any race or social background who is in need, and love means acting to meet the person’s need. There is never a good reason for refusing to help.

When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night. Romans 12:13 NLT

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting — and any other commandment — are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Romans 13:8-10 NLT

Another aspect of loving your neighbor is that we should not lie or be critical to each other, because it disrupts unity, as it creates conflicts and destroys trust.

We need to examine our attitudes and actions toward others; our neighbor. Do we build people up, instead of tearing them down by criticizing and condemning them?

Saying something positive and beneficial to others, will cure us from constant fault-finding in them, and increase our ability to obey God’s law of love!

So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbor the truth” because we belong to each other. And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. Ephesians 4:25-27 NLT

Don’t speak evil against each other, my dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize each other and condemn each other, then you are criticizing and condemning God’s law. But you are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong. Your job is to obey it. God alone, who made the law, can rightly judge among us. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to condemn your neighbor? James 4:11-12 NLT

In conclusion, let us finish with a powerful saying that comes directly from the mouth of Jesus Himself:

Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 NLT

Copyright©2008 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan