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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.  

Romans 13:8-10

We make sure we have a roof over our head and a warm place to live...but what about our neighbour?

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

Example: The Good Samaritan

The parable [1] of the good Samaritan teaches a lesson about what it means to be a loving neighbour. It is recorded in Luke chapter 10 and verses 25 to 37. Click here to read the full parable.

The story is of a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is severely attacked by robbers. A religious man and also a Levite saw him but passed on the other side of the road so they wouldn't have to help the man. However, a Samaritan saw him and through compassion and kindness took care of him. He bound his wounds and then set the injured man on his own animal and took him to an innkeeper. He gave the innkeeper money to care for him.

Jesus identified the Samaritan as the only one, out of the three, which was a good and loving neighbour.

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37

Through this parable, Christ identified what he meant by “loving your neighbour”.

The lesson to us is that a man or woman who loves their neighbour in the true sense will not consider a person’s social, religious or national background before offering help. True love (as taught by the Bible) does not get turned on or off according to the person you are dealing with. True Biblical love is an integral part of you that naturally comes to the fore when you react to circumstances you are faced with.

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.

Conclusion

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

Footnote

[1] A parable is a short story that Jesus told people. Jesus used parables to teach them a message about him or about God.

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