Love your neighbour
Of all the things which a Christian must do in their lives, the greatest is to love God with everything you have. The second most important is to love your neighbour.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
Who is our neighbour in the context of this verse? Is it literally the person who lives next door to you? No, it refers to everyone around you including your enemies.
This law to love your neighbour is based on a proper regard for the consideration of others. We are obliged to love one another.
The love of a believer to his neighbours is a self-sacrificing love. It is one where he seeks the highest good for the other person. He/she knows what they must do to show this love, by having knowledge of God and the love which he shows to all. They can learn from observing God’s love. Love seeks only the good for others, through trying to reflect a truly godly love.
The principles behind loving your neighbour
The life of a Christian must have as part of it, loving your neighbour. These are some principles to guide that love:
1. Our neighbour includes people from any social background and from any human race.
2. To love those around you means taking action to help that person with their needs. There are always going to be people in the society around you who need your help.
3. Lack of love is something we should always be on the watch out for. It can be an easy trap to fall into when we become insular and inward-looking.
Treating others like we treat ourselves
The apostle Paul wrote these words to the believers living in Rome:
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
We all make sure we have a place to sleep, clothes to keep us warm and food to eat. We look after ourselves to ensure we are kept in good health. And there is nothing wrong with having this care and attention to ourselves. What Paul is saying is that we need to have this same love for our neighbours. This love involves making sure that others have a place to sleep, clothes to keep them warm and food to keep them in good health. So, to love others as we love ourselves, means to be continually on the outlook to make sure that the needs of others are met.
To love others is a unceasing duty and is a central part of a Christian’s life.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8
Using love to protect your neighbour
Love seeks only the best for others which results in some situations where it seems you are showing resistance rather than love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
Sometimes a believer may seem like he is being critical or harsh with another, when in fact he is being kind. There is the example of Jesus with Peter:
But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23
The rebuke was to refocus Peter’s mind on what was truly important.
There is also the example of Paul. Paul sometimes gave exhortation speeches that asked the believers to change their ways. But instead of the believers taking his words to their heart and trying to do better, they rather rebelled against him treating him as a enemy. Paul was aware of this when he said:
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 2 Corinthians 12:15
Paul’s rebukes were given in love so that the Corinthian believers might change direction and come closer to what God requires of his servants. In other words, Paul’s love was such that he could not bear to see them acting in a way that would jeopardise their entrance into the future kingdom of God.
The character of God as revealed to Moses was:
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6
To help us show love to others we need to have a understanding of the character of God. Once we have this understanding we have the motive power to show acts of love to others like, offering help, giving comfort to others, visiting the sick and frail, and so on.
The believer can be further inspired to show love in his life to his neighbours by considering the example Of Christ. Even though we were undeserving he gave his life for us in the ultimate act of love.
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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 March 2015