Love your neighbour
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself”. (Matthew 22:36-40)
The words, “Love your neighbour as yourself” are found eight times in the Bible, so it must be important. Jesus coupled the command to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”, emphasising that these are the most important of all God’s commands.
Loving our neighbour means receiving God’s love.
To begin to love our neighbour as ourselves, we need to know two things: we need to know what love is and that we are loved. God loves us deeply and unconditionally. We need to understand that God loved us first and is the source of our love. Before we can give this love, we need to receive it for ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.
Loving our neighbour means loving ourselves as well.
To love your neighbour as yourself, you need to love yourself. This is something that is sometimes misunderstood in the body of Christ. It gets mixed up with ‘dying to self’ or denying oneself. Jesus died for each and every one of us and if He valued us enough to go through this for us, we owe it to Him to value what He values. We need to love what He loves – us. Learning to love ourselves prepares and helps us to love our neighbour.
Loving your neighbour means showing grace.
Knowing God is love and that this love is for you, is not enough. It needs to be developed. Grace takes the seed of God’s love, plants it in the soil of our hearts and creates fruit for the kingdom of God. Grace teaches us how to love and respect ourselves and our neighbour in turn. Freely receiving His grace empowers us to freely give it.
Loving your neighbour means acting with compassion and service.
When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbour?” He responded with the story of the Good Samaritan. Even those who have no love for God see the value of the story. Who did Jesus say was being a neighbour? The one who had compassion. Compassion is not simply a warm feeling in our hearts; it does something. A heart that is moved by compassion cannot sit idly by while someone suffers a need. Loving your neighbour as yourself is being moved to serve others to the full extent of your ability. When acts of service are done out of duty, then it is not love. To love our neighbour as ourselves, we should have a sincere heart of compassion and service to others.
Loving your neighbour means speaking kindly.
Words build up or tear down. Speaking words of encouragement to someone who is troubled is an obvious example but there are others. We can always find something good to say if we take the time to look for it.
Loving your neighbour means forgiving.
Jesus frequently spoke words of forgiveness over others that resulted in the healing of their bodies. Forgiveness is freely given to us, and to love your neighbour as yourself is to pass that forgiveness on. Loving your neighbour is to forgive as you have been forgiven.
Deacon Michael Khoury