Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Today we are looking at Mark 12:30-31 with a focus on verse 31. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (CSB)

Jesus tells us that first, we must love God with everything in us…heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must love Him completely. Then He tells us that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. He is the source of love, He IS love!

In 1 John 4:21, John writes, “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (ESV) We must love God AND we must love our neighbor. We must take care that our love of God flows straight to them as well. We must treat them like we want to be treated.

Our first question should be, “Who is our neighbor?” I looked on the Internet and found this description on gotquestions.org. “Our neighbor is thus anyone in our proximity with whom we can share God’s love. We are called not only to love those who are similar to us or with whom we are comfortable, but all whom God places in our path.”  In essence, our neighbor is anyone who has a need. Jesus tells us that love is the greatest commandment…loving God and loving others. Without love, we cannot be an influence for Christ. Love is not an emotion; it is an action. It is shown in what we do and speak. The amount of love we show others shows how much we love God and love ourselves.

The Apostle Paul tells us what love is in 1 Corinthians 13, which has been dubbed “The Love Chapter.” It tells us what love is. All the descriptions are action-related. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV) This also encapsulates the Golden Rule where Jesus tells us, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV) This is loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

For example, my husband and I went to a local Japanese restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. We decided we wanted to try something different as we’d never been to a Japanese restaurant. We decided to do hibachi style. We sat down at the table around the hibachi grill and soon two other couples joined us. One couple struck up a conversation with us and we all ordered our food. The chef came and cooked our meals in front of us and served us. I mentioned that I’d never had sushi with raw fish in it, I had always had vegetable sushi. She offered me a bite of her sushi, and it was delicious. We enjoyed our meals and had a delightful conversation with them. They needed to leave before we did so they paid their bill and left. When it came time for us to leave, our waitress told us the couple had paid our bill along with theirs. We had just met them, didn’t know anything about them, but they showed love to us by paying for our food. They were following Jesus’ command to love your neighbor by showing kindness to us even though they didn’t know us.

If you need help with this commandment, ask God to help you. He will show you how to love. You can then take His example of how He loves you and love yourself, and then share that love with those around you.

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