Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29–31
On Monday, we took a closer look at what it means to “love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.“ – what it is and 10 ways to live it out every day.
Today, I want to dig into the second part of these commands … “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Because like having an all-consuming love for God — “loving your neighbor as you love yourself” is easier to say than it is to live.
First, you and I have to know what it means to love ourselves! If we don’t love ourselves well, we will certainly have trouble loving others.
But an important truth is I don’t believe loving myself means I have to get all warm and fuzzy every time I look in the mirror or look back over my day.
I believe self-love is birthed in humility.
Warren Wiersbe wrote the following as the definition of true humility:
- Know Yourself – Knowing yourself means getting to know your personality, your values, your gifts and abilities, and your hopes and dreams . . . the you God created.
- Accept Yourself – Accepting yourself comes from having and keeping a vertical perspective. Fixing your eyes on Jesus. NOT COMPARING yourself to others.
- Be Yourself – Being yourself means living obediently as the one of a kind, God designed person you are. Being yourself means allowing God to use you to fulfill His plans and purposes. It is allowing Him to use you to love others in ways only you are able.
You can find out more about loving yourself at – 25 Ways to Love Yourself God’s Way.
What if you and I applied the same three understandings to loving others?
Love your neighbor — Know them. Accept them. Allow them to be themselves. AND put that truth into action for ourselves and for others.
Maybe we make it too complicated. Loving ourselves and others may mean simply caring for each other’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being as we are best able.
A great place to start is to “First, do no harm.”
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8–10
But it really is just the beginning isn’t it?
I also like the way Dallas Willard expands on this idea:
“What love is: We love something when we are devoted to its good or well-being. This applies to God, our “neighbor,” our flower garden, or our bank account. Love is will-to-good. Not the same as desire. And not always directed rightly or ordered rightly. Love involves compassion.”
First, do no harm, and next will-to-good!
That makes it far less complicated, doesn’t it?
Neighbor love means to purposefully avoid harming them and being devoted to their well-being … offering help as we are able.
I made a list of things you and I can do to love our neighbors better …
A Dozen Ways to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
1. Look at everyone with tender-hearted compassion.
2. Pay attention – listen to everyone with kindness and consideration.
3. Treat people the way you’d like them to treat you. Matthew 7:12 (paraphrase me)
4. Refuse to judge others – that’s God’s job.
5. Pray with and for your friends, family, neighbors, children’s teachers and friends, leaders, etc.
6. Refuse to participate in gossip about anyone … ever.
7. Be quick to inspire and encourage the people around you.
8. Say “please” and “thank you” often!
9. Keep your promises.
10. Forgive quickly and completely.
11. Pay attention – look people in the eye and smile at them.
12. Be kind … always and without exception!
You don’t have to agree with someone to be kind.
In the story of the Good Samaritan…
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
That’s neighbor love!
“God’s irresistible grace binds our wandering hearts to Himself and frees us to love Him back and overflow in love to our neighbors.” ~ Gloria Furman
Thank you so much for joining me today.
And a thank you to BibleGateway.com for sources.
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