Love Your Neighbor

Many of us have heard the words of Jesus from Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. In such different times we are all experiencing, there have been a lot of examples of “loving our neighbors”. Seeing hundreds of schools across the nation offering free meals to families, individuals volunteering to make dozens of masks as donations, free online concerts, or early releases of movies to streaming services to name a few. In times of crisis, love seems to be what binds us all together. But, if you are in Christ, you know that love is much more than kind acts or serving someone else.

The verse from Matthew 22 comes out of a question asked by the Pharisees regarding God’s law. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’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 neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (36-40)

We know we can only truly understand, receive, experience, and share love when we know Love, which is God (1 John 4:8). With that, loving our neighbor as ourselves is a secondary commandment to loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind. When we know God, we know love, when we know love, we are filled and pour that love back onto the one who has given it to us, then we pour it out to others.
Many times my own love comes from knowing what I should do, whether I am wanting to or not. My love isn’t always a reflection of my worship for God and love for him then also being poured out on those around me. I’m quick to serve or encourage, but slow to share my reasoning for doing so, which if I’m honest isn’t serving or encouraging anyone at all if I’ve left Jesus out of it. I want the times I love my neighbor as myself to be coupled with the Gospel, the greatest gift I could ever receive. If I love my neighbor as I love myself, Jesus has to be in the center of that, because any love I try to offer without him is empty.

Showing love to our neighbor goes far beyond acts of kindness, showing love to our neighbor is sharing Love with our neighbor. In such different times, everyone needs hope. We know true hope only comes from God, the one who is in control over all, who sees eternally forward and backwards, and who works all things for His glory and our good. As we continue to walk through this new season, may we not love only through serving those around us, but by sharing why Love inspires us to do so.