There are two that He said were the greatest. These two, His listeners probably did not expect to hear Him say. He did not say they were the easiest to follow, but He said “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”(Matthew 22:40) They are simple in thinking but not simple in acting. Most basic rules are simple but not easy. I try to imagine being there as the Pharisees egged Him on and tried to get Him to blaspheme. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36) Did they expect His response? Did they think He would go another direction.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Well, they might have expected that one but the next is interesting. “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:39)
I wonder if some of them were like “Love my neighbor? But he always puts his trash on my side of the street. He never says hi to me. He always has parties and never invites me over. Really? Love my neighbor?”
Some of us today read this and hear it in church and still think similar thoughts. “My neighbor isn’t nice to me. My neighbor is always coming over and never minds his business. My neighbor has trash in his driveway all the time. I’m supposed to love him?”
Yes! We are supposed to love them. Not just the neighbor next door, but everyone. “But I can’t love everyone.”
There are two important things that must be done before loving your neighbor the way we are commanded to can happen. Again these are simple, but for some, not easy. Here it is:
Love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul. Some people don’t even know God to love Him. Some people were taught to fear God. Not in the Biblical sense of fear, but they fear Him and are afraid to love Him. Maybe this is because some church or pastor taught them to really fear Him and just follow the Laws like those who Jesus was addressing. If you do not love God how can you love your neighbor?
Here is the second issue I see with people not loving their neighbor. What Jesus says is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He says “as yourself.” Do you love yourself? I’m not asking if you are selfish and do things only for you. That is not loving yourself. That is trying to fill a hole with things.
Do you love yourself?
I am not a theologian. I am just a person who loves God, loves my family, and loves you, because I know I love me. I know that if I did not love God I could not love me. I know that if I don’t love me I couldn’t love you. I feel that Jesus is clear here saying “as yourself.” If you do not love yourself it is impossible to really love others.
The hard part for those who love God and love themselves is to love those who do neither. How do you do that? Can you love someone who does not love you? This is the only way that they will even start to let God’s love in. This process can be simple as well but…… Not Easy.
Start being nice to the person who you feel does not like you. Start a conversation or just say hi. Say hi to the neighbor who complains about you. Give them a card at Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any day. Say hi to that person at work who puts up walls. The one thing I will warn you about is to not get pulled in to their negative energy. Show them love but make it a process. If you love them, they will start to love themselves.
God loves us all.
Do you love God?
Do you love yourself?
How can you better know God to love Him?
What is one thing you can do to show love for others?
How can you help others love themselves?
Please comment below.