Love God, Love your neighbor
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, His response was “love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind”. But He didn’t stop there, He connected it to loving your neighbor as yourself. Nobody asked Him what the second commandment was just for the first commandment. Jesus connected these two because the second part demonstrates the first part. In other words, by loving your neighbor as yourself, you are showing outwardly your love for the LORD your God and showing others God’s heart of compassion for them.
This brings me to the question how do I “love my neighbor as myself”? It has always been something hard for me to grasp. Almost like a vapor, very cloudy, because I think I didn’t feel it was attainable or I just didn’t consider the possibilities. Then God showed me a practical way to view my neighbor so I would know how to love them with the God kind of love. When I see my neighbor, I see myself. If I see my neighbor struggling with something, what would I do if it were myself or what would I want someone to do for me if I was the one struggling with the same thing? If I see my neighbor rejoicing about something, how would I want others to rejoice with me if I were celebrating something?
Now that I looked at it from this angle, it seemed very simple to understand, but not so simple to follow through. The first thing to identify is, who is my neighbor? Is it those who live next door to me or in my neighborhood? What if I live in the country and don’t have anyone living close to me? Secondly, how do I know what to do to “love” them? In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate loving your neighbor as yourself. In this parable, there were strangers who passed by a man that had fallen among thieves, and yet He calls the man who “showed mercy,” the Samaritan, his neighbor. The Samaritan didn’t even know the injured guy and he certainly didn’t live next door to him. The Samaritan man was considered neighborly because he had compassion on the hurting person and then did something about it. The point is that anyone you can help or do something good for is your neighbor.
The last thing I want to consider is why does God want me to love my neighbor as myself? Is it only to make rules for me to keep me in line? Is it to make me look like a good person? No, the reason is to show others the very heart of God! The only way others can know God is if they see His heart in the action of His people. The other part of that is, we can see God’s heart in action when we are showing mercy, compassion and love to others. If you want to see a great act of God, then watch it play out in your love for your “neighbor”.
Today and every day I encourage you to look for people that God will send across your path to “love” as you love yourself. Care for them as you would for yourself. Let your actions toward others reflect the heart of God’s love for all people and you will be making a difference in the world you live.
Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 22:23-40
23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him,
24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother.
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh.
27 Last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.
31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,
32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
33 And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”