The world seems cold to me lately. Oh, there have always been mean folks around, but it seems like now more than ever people are just harsh to each other. The answer to this issue, as with all problems, is in God’s word. So I decided to look in the Bible to see what it says about how to love your neighbor.
The more I thought about the topic of how to love your neighbor, I realized first that I must understand who my neighbor is. Is it the people who own the land adjacent to mine? How about the folks a mile or two down the road? Perhaps it is just church folks.
In Luke Chapter 20 a lawyer questioned Jesus about how he could inherit eternal life. The lawyer was actually trying to tempt the Lord. Jesus told the man to love the Lord with all his heart. He also told him to “love your neighbor.” That wasn’t enough for the man. He then asked Jesus who was his neighbor. Jesus answered him with a story.
The story of the Good Samaritan is a very familiar parable. I won’t try to tell the whole story here. The lesson in the story is that the man that stopped to help the victim of a beating and robbery on the roadside was that man’s neighbor. The Samaritan aided the helpless man, who was probably a Jew, when other people that were Jewish and religious would not. A person from Samaria was considered unclean to a Jew. He would not be considered a neighbor.
So, if I am understanding this right, a neighbor is not just the folks in my town or church. It goes a lot broader than that. The most simple way that I can define the word neighbor and how it applies to my walk with Christ is this: my neighbor is anyone but me.
So now that we have determined who our neighbor is,that brings us back to the original thought. How do you love your neighbor? How do you love everyone but you?
It Is A Royal Law To Love Your Neighbor
Many people in the religious crowd in Christ’s day tried to trip him up. In Matthew 22 we read of a group of Pharisees that were bent on tempting the Lord. One of them, another lawyer, asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus gave him two.
The first commandment was that thou shalt love the Lord they God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This one seems like it should be obvious, especially to a group of people that proclaim to be the children of God. If you love the Lord with all you have then obedience to the rest of his commandments should be your top priority.
The second commandment that Jesus gave the Pharisees was to love your neighbor as yourself. He told them that this law was like the first one. The act of loving God and loving your neighbor are directly related. Christ told them that the rest of the laws hung on these two. These two commandments came from the creator of all things, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Therefore, it is a royal law that you should love your neighbor.
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well.
Don’t Plan On Doing Evil To Your Neighbor
Perhaps someone you are acquainted with said something to offend you, intentionally or not. Maybe a neighbor is associated with something that you don’t care for. Sometimes people at work just rub me the wrong way.
However you have been offended, you should make no plans for retribution. The world today seeks to get even with one another. No one ever “gets even.” Everyone just ends up hurt.
Don’t devise evil against anyone for any reason. Hate and envy that are allowed to fester in your heart will hurt your relationship with your neighbor and destroy your testimony to a lost world. It is impossible to love your neighbor and plan to do them harm.
Proverbs 3:29 Devise not evil against thy neighbor, Seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
Love Your Neighbor By Pleasing Your Neighbor
My flesh is always looking to please itself. That seems to be the way it is for most people. There is something inside me that knows that is not the way of a Christian. A Holy Spirit led walk does not seek self-indulgence.
The way of Christ is a servant’s way. A heart that desires to please others is the mark of a saved individual. Christ gave us that example at Calvary. He served us all with the ultimate sacrifice.
When you look for ways to please your neighbor it serves several purposes. The first one is that it shows your neighbor that you love them. Next, it is good for your neighbor and gives them a boost they may need. Finally, it will serve in the building up of the church. Good things happen for all involved when we seek ways to please our neighbor.
Romans 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.
Feed Your Neighbor To Show Your Light To The World
Greed will destroy your heart and your testimony. There is a great spiritual void in the world. Physical hunger is also all around us. The world must see your willingness to give freely before they will ever believe that you have something spiritually different to offer.
If God has blessed you with material abundance, find some way to share that with your neighbors in need. The truth is that we will not be here long in this life. What a blessing it is to the hungry when you share with them. It will also serve to strengthen your faith, which we all could use more of.
When you give cheerfully, either in the offering plate or the food bank, it always enhances God’s kingdom. People are in great need all around us. Let your light shine through generosity physically then people can see the importance of their spiritual life as well.
Isaiah 58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, And satisfy the afflicted soul; Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, And thy darkness be as the noonday.
These are just a few ways to love your neighbor. I am sure there are thousands more ways to show Christian love to others. There is no doubt in my mind that we are called to do this. I want to encourage you to pray and ask God to show you opportunities to love your neighbor. I bet he will open your eyes to more than you ever thought of.