Love Thy Neighbor

Mark 12:30-31
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible.

“Love thy neighbor” is not as hard as it looks on the surface. It simply means respecting others and regarding their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own.

“Love thy neighbor” is a term that’s become almost cliched over the years. But where did it originate, and what does it really mean?

In a time when neighbors, at least in America, are people we rarely see (thanks to garage door openers and busy lives), or are thought of as nuisances with barking dogs and noisy children, how can we possibly love our neighbors?

Love thy neighbor was, in part, Jesus’ answer when the Pharisees, the chief religious sect of that day, asked Him about the greatest commandment in the Law (See Matthew 22:36-40). These religious leaders had made almost an art form of classifying all the various laws and giving them relative degrees of importance, so in asking Jesus this question, their aim was to test Him. His answer stunned them:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus was summing up all the law in these two statements. If we love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and mind, loving our neighbor is the natural result. The question then is, who is our neighbor, and how do we love him or her?

Let’s look at who Jesus says our neighbor is:

Matthew 5:43-44
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Is our neighbor more than the guy next door? Could he or she be someone in our community or almost anyone we meet? Could our enemies also be our neighbors? Jesus says that it’s so. But how can we love someone who acts hatefully toward us?

When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we grow to recognize that everyone is part of His creation. Will everyone be in heaven? No, but that’s not because God doesn’t desire that to be the case. His Word tells us that God desires that all would be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). So it’s clear that God sees all of us as potential children. God has given each person a measure of faith, along with the “free will” to either choose to ultimately reject or to receive the gift of salvation when the Gospel is shared with him/her. For us, this is where faith comes in. It is not for us to know who will choose Him and who will not, but we are called to be God’s witnesses. In order to fulfill that calling, we must love others enough to desire their salvation just as He does.

Here’s the good news for those who find this teaching difficult: Nowhere does it say we have to like(be best friends with) our neighbor!

As for the how part of this formula, we turn to these words from the Apostle Paul. In Romans 13:8-10, Paul says:

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Love Thy Neighbor – Get to Know Jesus
“Love thy neighbor” is not as hard as it looks on the surface. It simply means respecting others and regarding their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own. Keeping this commandment, however, is extremely likely to require the supernatural assistance only God, through Christ, can provide.

So how can we learn to love the guy next door with the barking dog, especially when we don’t even like him? Perhaps the secret is to recognize that our neighbor, whether it’s the guy next door, the checker at the local grocery store, or the Sunday school teacher at church, is someone who is just as worthy of God’s love as you or I. In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, John 1:14 is expressed as follows:

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

Could it be that the way we love our neighbor is through getting to know Christ, the living Word of God?

It is human nature to emulate those we admire most, so in getting to know Christ, we’ll discover a God worthy of our whole-hearted love, and our neighbor will see that love in us.

Let’s Love More Now!

If you are reading this and do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I would like to extend this invitation to you to receive the gift of salvation today. You can do so by praying and truly believing the prayer below, or by praying to God in your own Words.
PRAYER:
God,
I confess that I have sinned against You, and I know that there is nothing I can do by my own efforts to change my condition. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His blood and died on the cross for my sins; And that He rose from the grave on the Third Day to grant me eternal life. I know You love me, God, and I love You. I place my faith and trust only in You to conform my heart to Your will; And to order my steps everyday, from this day forward. Thank You , Lord, for saving me.
When we accept salvation, God saves us immediately, and makes us fit for entrance into Heaven, however some changes God will empower you to make easily, while making other changes will be a process that may take months or even years to make. Regardless of your situation, I assure you that the Lord loves you more than you could ever comprehend, and He will be with you every step of the way. Pray, study God’s Word and ask Him to give you revelation of what you are reading. I also pray that the Lord will direct you to a true Bible teaching, Jesus loving church, where you can have the support of other believers.

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