Loving Our Neighbors
The Bible tells us that we are to love God and love others. For example, Matthew 22:36-40 plainly says, ” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” It is obvious that God cares deeply that we first love Him, and second to that, we love and respect others. Our vertical relationship with God should be an outward act of love towards our neighbors. To say it another way, there is a correlation in our relationship with God and our love for others. If we are walking with God closely and love Him, it will show in how we reach out and love our neighbors.
Loving our neighbor means that we do not treat them with ugly, disrespectful, or anything that would cause us to dishonor God with our actions. Rather, we are to simply love our neighbor, be friendly, serve them, and ultimately live out our faith in Christ before them. Moreover, our desire as Christ followers should be to witness and share Christ with them. There can be no doubt that ours, and our neighbors, greatest need is Christ.
Loving our neighbors is not always easy. God knew that we would struggle with it at times. Depending on our particular neighbor, Jack Wellmam writes, ” We may not love what they do, but we love them.” Therefore, loving them means we must have compassion for them. “Compassion is not simply a warm fuzzy felling in our hearts. Compassion does something” (Danielle Bernock). It is being mindful of them, communicating with them, and being in relationship with them. In doing so, God will provide opportunities for us to share the gospel with them and help them know Him.
The question rises, “Who is our neighbor?” In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus was asked this question and responded by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. That wonderful parable sums it up for us all. We are called as believers and followers of Christ to have compassion and show mercy.
Even if our neighbor is hard to love, we are called to love them. Our simple acts of kindness and love can open doors for communication to share the gospel. May we remember this as we live our faith in Christ before our neighbors.