Love God, Love your neighbor
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-32
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 know how. 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 if I was struggling with the same thing or what would I want someone to do to help me through it? 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 his neighbor. The Samaritan didn’t even know the guy and he certainly didn’t live next door to him. I also want to make the point that this was not a fellow believer, this was a dirty, hurting, dying, helpless, and hopeless sinner. The point is that anyone you can do 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 our actions. The other part of that is, we can see God’s heart in action when we are showing it to others. If you want to see a great act of God, then watch it play out in your love towards your “neighbor”.
Today and every day I encourage you to look for those God will send across your path to “love” as you love yourself and do good to them as you would do for yourself. Let your actions toward others reflect the heart of God’s love for them. Be watching for ways to bless people you know and also those you don’t know and let God’s love be the answer to other people’s problems.
Today’s scripture reading: Mark 12:28-34
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.
33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him.