Explain the Verse “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”
Jesus emphatically stated that loving your neighbor as yourself is second only to loving God. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)
No one wants to hurt someone they love which is why it is easier to over look the trespasses of our loved ones than those of mere acquaintances. But who is our neighbor?
When asked this question, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan where an innocent man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead along the roadside. Before long two men who were assumed by all to be upright and moral, passed him by and left him to die. A Samaritan, who was looked down upon by the Jews of that generation, showed compassion for the afflicted man and stopped to help. The Samaritan therefore, according to Jesus, was the man’s neighbor. (Luke 10:29-37)
As we grow in Christ we begin to take on His character, producing the fruit of the Spirit such as gentleness, kindness, and selflessness. Since we are instructed by the Savior to love our enemies, how much more does he want us to love those who are not our enemies?
Jesus said that we are to be kind to all men (Matt. 5:45) because the Father is also kind and sends the sun and rain upon us all, whether just or unjust. But those who selflessly help us in difficult times are the ones Jesus said are our neighbors and we are to love them even as we love ourselves.
When a born-again Christian begins to mature in Christ, the love for other members in the family of God begins to develop and grow. It is just as natural as young siblings growing to love each other in any other family. Anyone who doesn’t have this kind of love for the brethren doesn’t have perfect love towards God.
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1John 4:20)
Most families experience conflict and yet still love each other. The test of true love comes from hardships or when the chips are down and we realize which of our friends or family is truly our neighbor.
Looking around at all the people we pass by each day we need to realize that if we had experienced the same kind of relationship with any one of them over the years as we have with those we’re closest to, we would have loved them just as much. Every man, woman, and child is someone’s father, Mother, brother, or sister and should be viewed as such.
Most of us have been helped out of a difficult situation by a kindhearted person at one time or another during our lifetime and according to Jesus, that person is our neighbor. However, during our lives we have encountered many people and none of us know which of these, whether friend, family or even stranger, would have done the same had they been given the chance, which is also true of all of those we will encounter in the future.
Therefore, since we don’t know for sure, we should view all people as our neighbor. Likely as not it would surprise us to know which of those we pass each day would do for us what the Good Samaritan did for the injured traveler should we fall on hard times.
Learning to love each other is a process and learning to love our neighbor as ourselves helps us learn to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.