This seems like an easy one to talk about and even write about and while that may be true, it's one of the hardest things to actually put into practice. If you're a human and you have lived your life for any length of time, you have been wronged in some way by someone else. You have felt that pride that we all feel that, somehow, you deserve more than the other person. It seems as though you have this thing inside you that is pushing you to believe that you are the “top dog.” When someone who isn't your family acts out in a certain way that gets on your nerves, you just want to cut ties and never talk to them again.
How is it then, that we are told time and time again, in Scripture, to “love one another”? How can we do this? What does this love really look like? In this next verse we see Jesus summing up the 10 commandments into 2 short ones. Short, but intense. The first has to do with our relationship with God and the second has to do with the relationship that we have with each other. The second one is what we will be looking at.
"The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” - Mark 12:31
You see that we are told that we are to “love your neighbor as yourself’. I have read this so many times and even quoted it to others many times. When I first started saying this to others, I have to admit that I truly didn't think about the implications of it. There was almost this “wise” feeling I had when I said it. It's funny when you think about it. The wisdom is found in God and in His Word, not in us. However, it is our Sword to use.
When you stop to think about what it truly means to “love your neighbor as yourself” and you actually focus on how to do that, you can see how hard this really is. I have used an example in the past before. Imagine you are walking outside to take the garbage out and you're walking barefoot and you accidentally step in some animal mess. What is it that you do? You go inside after gagging and wash it off, right? Well, imagine someone you don't know walks up to you with that same mess on their feet and you just reach down to wash it off.
Seems funny right? Well, you need to have the same compassion and care for others that you have for yourself. When you truly stop to “love your neighbor as yourself”, you stop thinking that you should come first in all things. If you're a husband, wife, father, or mother this goes into practice in that instance as well. When your wife or child gets hurt, you stop to take care of them. That same kind of idea goes into “loving your neighbor as yourself.” You look to take care of people in any way that you can. If you see someone in need, you help them as much as you can. If they are rude, you forgive them and move on. If they are hungry, you feed them. If they are thirsty, you give them something to drink. I hope by now that some of this might start sounding familiar. Maybe even like the good Samaritan example found in scripture.
If you remember that the example used there in Scripture was used to show how the “religious” elites were acting in those days and how fake they were and really missing the mark. I often wonder though, how would we, as modern Christians, measure up to them. Would we have a lot in common with them? Would we be seen as caring more for ourselves than for others? Do we really stop and consider what this really means? Are we so self centered and selfish to think that we are better than others?
I hate to admit it, but I haven't always loved my neighbor as much as I love myself. I have walked by people who were asking for change or help and not stopped to think about it. By the grace of God, I have grown in that area, but I still wrestle with it in other ways. I have seen others struggling with issues in their life and not stopped to offer up a prayer or Godly advice from Scripture.
If we are to truly do this, it goes beyond just caring for others’ physical needs. Do we care enough for others to share that beautiful Truth from Scripture that we have hidden in our hearts? The Gospel! To truly care for someone else as we do ourselves goes way deeper than just feeding or clothing someone, which truly is important and needs to happen more often. If you take a look at the early church in the book of Acts, you see them taking care of each other and spending time with one another. Beyond that, you see God adding to their number day by day. Yes, people were being saved by God and His grace because of the Gospel being shared with them by the Church.
So if we are to do this and put this into practice, we have to be more attentive to others and their true needs. Jesus is what they need for their salvation. Yes, feed them and, of course, clothe them. Take care of their bills if need be or even a place to stay but much more than that, give them Christ! Give them the Gospel and the offer of salvation that is offered in and through Him and Him alone! We need to be reminded of that sweet beautiful Gospel daily and so we should share it with others daily as well. I pray this encourages you to truly “love your neighbor as yourself.”