Skip to comments.Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Posted on 05/26/2013 12:19:47 PM PDT by Salvation
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (NAS, Mark 12:28-31)
In Jesus' teachings, our relationship with our fellow men, women and children is inseparable from our relationship with God. Love of God and love of our neighbors are two aspects of the same calling:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)
Who is my Neighbor?
We commonly think of neighbors as the people who live near us, but Jesus meant it to include all mankind - even our enemies! Jesus told His famous parable of the Good Samaritan to make it clear that "love your neighbor" means to love all persons, everywhere - not just our friends, allies, countrymen, etc.:
One day an expert on Moses' laws came to test Jesus' orthodoxy by asking him this question: "Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?" Jesus replied, "What does Moses' law say about it?" "It says," he replied, "that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself." "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you shall live!" The man wanted to justify (his lack of love for some kinds of people), so he asked, "Which neighbors?" Jesus replied with an illustration: "A Jew going on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road. "By chance a Jewish priest came along; and when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Jewish Temple-assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but then went on. "But a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two twenty-dollar bills and told him to take care of the man. 'If his bill runs higher than that,' he said, 'I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.' "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the bandits' victim?" The man replied, "The one who showed him some pity." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same." (TLB, Luke 10:25-37)
The Jews and Samaritans had been enemies for hundreds of years. The Jews of Jesus' society considered the Samaritans to be ceremonially unclean, socially outcast, religious heretics (Mays, p. 1029). Yet, the Samaritan took pity on the poor man who had been robbed and beaten. He gave freely of both his time and his money to help this Jewish man who was not only a stranger, but also an enemy from a foreign country. In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us to "Go and do the same."
To reinforce that "love your neighbor" applies to everyone, Jesus extended the rule of love to even our enemies!
"There is a saying, 'Love your friends and hate your enemies.' But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (TLB, Matthew 5:43-48)
Like the unselfish Samaritan man of Jesus' parable, we are called to extend our love and concern to all persons everywhere, as our neighbors. We should not exclude anyone or any group because of social status, a supposed character fault, religious difference, racial difference, ethnic difference, citizenship difference, etc.
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Jesus calls us to remember that we are all God's children. Just as He loves all His people and is willing to forgive their sins, we must be willing to forgive others who have done wrong to us:
"For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (NAS, Matthew 6:14-15)
Anger can consume us with hatred and block out the love of God. Whether between parent and child, spouses, friends, or nations, expressions of anger divide us and drive us toward open hostility. More often than not, our angry feelings are based on a misinterpretation of what someone said or did. A grudge clouds our judgment and may lead us to an act of revenge that can never be undone.
The Old Testament law specified equal revenge for equal wrong: "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (, .) But this rule was too harsh for the new age of the kingdom of God. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the right thing to do is to take no revenge at all.
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' "But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. (NAS, Matthew 5:38-39)
The need to forgive is not some ideal that we cannot hope to attain. Forgiveness is necessary to free us from the dark cloud of anger and resentment that can literally destroy our own lives. We cannot afford to wait for the other person to repent and apologize. Unless we let go of our anger and the desire to punish or get even, the love of God cannot enter our lives.
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Help the Needy
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (NAS, Matthew 25:31-46)
Jesus could hardly have made things plainer than in His Parable of the Sheep and Goats, above. We are not meant to live hard-hearted or self-centered lives. We are called to put our faith into practice and truly love our neighbors, especially those less fortunate.
God has given each of us unique talents and gifts to use in His service. His work for us on earth is to use our gifts and talents in the service of others! Each of us has something to offer to someone in need. We can give our money and our time to charity, be a friend to someone who is sick or lonely, do volunteer work, or be a peacemaker. We may give unselfishly of our time to our spouse, children or parents. We may choose a service-oriented occupation, or we may just do our everyday jobs with integrity and respect for others.
It would seem that the more we give to others, the poorer we become, but just the opposite is true! Service to others brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives in a way that wealth, power, possessions and self-centered pursuits can never match. As Jesus said,
For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give- large or small- will be used to measure what is given back to you." (TLB, Luke 6:38)
Does this mean we can't satisfy Jesus' command unless we have abundant wealth to give, or extraordinary talents to serve other? No! It is not how much we give, but the spirit in which we give that counts with God. Each of us is called to give generously of what wealth and talents we have been given - whether it is a little or a lot. Jesus compared a poor widow, who gave only a little, to the wealthy men who gave much more. The wealthy men had only given a token amount from their great wealth. In God's eyes, the widow gave much more because she gave from the heart:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything- all she had to live on." (NIV, Mark 12:41-44)
Each of us has something to give. Some have wealth, some have talents, and some have time. Whatever gifts we have been given - large or small - we should share generously. When we do, we make the world better for someone else and find true meaning and satisfaction in our own lives.
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Follow the Golden Rule
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (NIV, Matthew 7:12)
The Golden Rule, spoken by Jesus, is possibly the best-known quote from the Bible, and sums up Jesus' ethical teachings in one short sentence. If we wish to be loved, we must give love. If we wish to be respected, we must respect all persons - even those we dislike. If we wish to be forgiven, we must also forgive. If we wish others to speak kindly of us, we must speak kindly of them and avoid gossip. If we want strong marriages, we must be loyal and faithful to our spouses. If we wish to be fulfilled in our lives, we must share generously with others. If we wish to reap the rewards of our Heavenly Father's love, we must truly love all His people.
If we do not wish to be judged harshly, then we must not judge others harshly. Often we are tempted to call someone else a "sinner" or to think of ourselves as holier. However, we are called to correct the faults within ourselves, not to criticize or condemn others:
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (NIV, Matthew 7:1-5)
Jesus' comical story tells of a man trying to remove a speck of sawdust (a minor fault) from his friend's eye while he is blinded by a huge plank (a major fault) in his own eye. Jesus says that as long as we have our own faults and sinfulness (which we always will), we do not have the right to criticize others.
The golden rule - treat others as you would want to be treated - is the standard Jesus set for dealing with other people.
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In His sermons and parables, Jesus seeks to shock us out of our selfishness and worldliness and create in us a true passion for the welfare of our fellow men, women and children around the world. Universal love is at the very heart of Jesus' teachings; it is God's earthly work for us.
What matters to God is our love for Him and our love for each other. Wealth, power and status count for nothing in the kingdom of God. When we truly love our neighbors, we do our part to make the world a better place, and we find our own fulfillment in life.
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What if my neighbor is trying to kill me or bring about the destruction of my nation? Easy to preach; hard to practice...; )
From the article we have the words of Jesus:
**”There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (TLB, Matthew 5:43-48)**
What if my neighbor works for the IRS trying to destroy my liveliyhood, my business, my financial well being and in the mean time making sure we have a MARXISTS in office?
Nope, can't do it.
Amen...I live in Red England...extremely hard to practice when your neighbors are all foul-mouthed supporters of abortion, the sodomite agenda, and the Communist Agenda.
What if my neighbor is a homo?
“Hate the sin; love the sinner” is what they tell us.
I often have the impression that we do not always correctly interpret Jesus’ teachings.
What if my neighbor wants to kill me? Should I allow him/her to do so?
If that were so, the human race would not survive and only evil would be victorious.
Somewhere He said: “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out... etc.”
If I were to pluck my eye out because it caused me to sin, I would have been blind a long time ago and I would have been guilty of self-mutulation — something that is a very grave sin. So, what is it?
Exactly, for a rational ethics,one must consider context and consequences. And one must take into account cause and effect.
The original scripture for love your neighbor is found in Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
Self-Defense is Biblical:
Was Jesus a pacifist?
And this was from a Christian website — not even a Catholic website.
No, I will not love my neighbors.
Sometimes we don’t like what our children do and we tell them that. And usually in my home, there was a punishment attached.
However, don’t we always “love” our children?
Isn’t it the same with neighbors?
We may not like them, but God calls us to a higher level to love them as a fellow being made in His Own Image!
Well if I defend my life from a Muslim attacker and shoot and kill him I will not be jumping for joy on the outside but I may feel like the Muzzie had it coming which may not be the Christian thing to do but what do you want me to do? Lie about it and sin twice?...: )
No, I will not love my neighbors.
Rather ? let those who preach it live in those conditions and see how they fair or actually do what they preach.
I wonder about the accuracy of that translation. Here is a collection of translations;
“Which neighbors” has a different meaning than “who is my neighbor”. The man who had fallen among thieves was the example of who was the neighbor. The one who helped was the one who was loving a neighbor;
“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
“Mercy” is an interesting word to use in this context. We usually think of mercy as something to be extended to those who have done wrong, not to those who have had wrong done to them.
As I said above, this was from a Christian site, not a Catholic site.
It was a “hard saying” when Jesus said it in real life, too :-).
I’m puzzled by some of the responses on this thread.
I’m wondering if they are only thinking of the “eros” love, rather than “agape” love of “philo” love??
I may not like the way my neighbor behaves (getting drunk every weekend, for example) but that does not mean I can’t have a brotherly “philo” love for him — and maybe some day talk about the neighbor’s drinking habits and family life with him.
1Ti 1:18-19 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
2Ti 4:2-4 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
I rarely hand out or loan cash - I don't consider that love. I will stay up online or on the phone to help an alcoholic or drug addict not pick up.
Loving the neighbor is reciprocating the Lord’s love for us.
BTW, I do get offended by ‘OMG’
To everyone here.
I would like to thank Salvation for this thread. Some of the responses are somewhat surprising.
As a point of information, I am a saved man, trying to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and His Word.
What is illustrative, to me at least, are the words and actions of Christ Jesus during His time here on earth.
He told us that the greatest of the commandments was to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind and soul. And then to love your neighbors as yourself, which is like unto the first.
I did not read of any qualifier there. Nothing saying ‘only the nice ones’ or ‘as long as they are pleasant to you’.
Jesus also said, pointedly I might add, that ANYONE could show love or pray for those they love, but where is the reward there? Even wicked people can do that. Instead we should love and pray for even our enemies.
See also Matthew 5:44 where Jesus Directly says love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them who persecute you.
Praying for someone. This is an activity that can be misunderstood.
For my saved children I pray for Gods protection and blessings on them, their children, their homes and lives.
For my unsaved children, I pray for their salvation, that the Lord would work on their hearts and gather them to Him.
For ‘enemies’, I would pray for them. Not for blessings. And of course not necessarily bad to happen to them. Rather that God would open their eyes and hearts to the wrong or sin they are commiting, that He would provide ample conviction to their heart and soul and He would work His will in their lives.
Even on the cross, surrounded by the people who had plotted against Him, who had scourged Him, who had spit and struck and mocked Him, who had conspired to kill Him, and yes even those who had driven the nails through His feet and hands, even there, Jesus prayed FOR those people who HATED Him, asking God the Father to forgive them.
As believers, Christians, we should try to behave as Jesus did, to be Christ-like, not for our own glory but to bring glory to Him.
As far as Jesus being a pacifist, I would say No to that. There is a place for physical action. Remember, Jesus flipped over tables, made a whip of cords and physically DROVE the money changers and animal dealers out of the temple. Not very pacifist.
An outstanding post. You put the words of Scripture into everyday language! Wowza!
Love has a nice connotation to it. Who would be against love?
But after the first thoughts and thinking cap installed. What does love mean? It has a strong relationship with the truth and very few want to hear that. It is not the warm fuzzy people want it to mean.
“[...]mutual love consists in desiring what is good to another rather than to oneself, as with the love of parents towards children, and as with the love of those who are moved to do good not for their own benefit but because they find joy in doing it.” Secrets of Heaven 2738 ~ Swedenborg
They are merely exhibiting the worldly flaws that reside in all of us. Else, He would not have had to die for our sins. If we still had to sacrifice something to atone for our sins, my back yard would be an abattoir.
Showing our failings or falling short of God's glory is precisely what all the commandments are about. They are good but we deliberately and willfully don't keep them. Like all the other commandments, our Lord gave the example of the Good Samaritan to show our failings. Our Lord concludes, "Go and do likewise and you shall live." This is a very sly and pointed remark to us to show us that we will not go and do likewise. Sure we might try to do something nice for someone once in a while, but it's a standard we cannot keep up. And if we break one of the laws we break it all.
While admittedly it helps us to think of doing good things, it really is pride and arrogance on our part to think that we do any good works. All good things come from the Father who works through us. God gives us our good works. We understand that we do nothing good apart from the Father and the Son. Only when we abide in Christ, does Christ work through us by means of the Holy Spirit to create our good works.
We don't follow the commandments because it is a "rule". We follow the commandments because God has put it on our heart. And if it wasn't for the Holy Spirit and God writing this upon our hearts, none of us would do anything pleasing to God. It is folly to think otherwise. We don't reciprocate the love of God because that implies our work and strength. We imitate the love because of Christ because of the Holy Spirit working through us. And God has already created our good works to the praise of His glory.
com·mand·ment Noun /kəˈmandmənt/
Synonyms: noun: command, order, dictate, behest, injunction, decree, precept, dictation
A divine rule, esp. one of the Ten Commandments
A rule to be observed as strictly as one of the Ten Commandments
God wrote the commandments with his own finger. Strive to do your best to keep them and you will be happy.
I’m very enlightened by RoadGumby’s post, and DaveMSmith’s brief summary. Loving another is desiring and working for his good. I think we all agree that the one essential good for anyone is eternal salvation.
Just as parents don’t show love for their children by allowing them to do wrong and stupid things, Christians don’t show love for their enemies (or for anyone) by affirming sin or allowing destructive behavior, if it can reasonably be stopped.
Let me ask you a rhetorical question, "Why do you want to 'reciprocate' to God good works instead of doing good works all the time? Isn't this what God really, really would like you to do?
The answer to this question is that we can't as Paul points out. We want to do good but we just can't. We want to obey the golden rule but we only do so piece meal. God expects us to live like Christ-every moment. It isn't so much the charitable works that we do. The problem is in the time we are not charitable.
James 3:11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Exactly. And that is precisely why we have the natural instinct to want to follow the things that are of God. It's now our natural instinct to want the Golden Rule. It isn't something we try to do. It is something that God has change our nature to want to do. We are not perfect and fail to follow it completely, but we try and repent when we fail.
Fearing the Lord is an honest appraisal of our situation. God is sovereign and in complete control of everything, including our lives. He could, at a moment's notice, give the command and chaos would come into our lives as it did with Job. And God would be perfectly right and just in doing so. He knows best. We should rightfully fear Him not because He is so powerful, but because we're so wicked. We rely upon His love and mercy. That is why He's our merciful Father. He doesn't judge us as He should. He judges us according to His mercy.
For unbelievers the Golden Rule in some cases is a very nice thing to practice or something to be dismiss. For Christians the Golden Rule is something we try to imitate.
**Today most of us don’t get offended when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain**
I stop them right there and ask them not to take the Lord’s name in vain.
If they can’t do that, then I walk away from the conversation and refuse to take part in it.
I take hell’s name in vain. I’be noticed that it makes moonbats very uncomfortable.
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