“Love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t just a nice quote. Jesus said it is in this one act that we comply with His Law about human relationships.
See, all the Law, every “rule” God set forth covers one of two areas: relationship with Him and relationship with one another. Here Jesus teaches that when we combine all the laws concerning human interaction, they boil down to simply loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
That leads me to two questions:
1.) Who is my neighbor?
2.) What if I don’t love myself?
Let’s look at those. First, who is our neighbor?
It was in answer to this question that Jesus told the story about the Good Samaritan. An Israelite man was beaten and robbed and looked really rough there on the roadside. The religious people saw him and looked away. The scorned Samaritan guy saw the man and helped. This guy was part of the ten tribes of Israel that had broken from Judah, ripping apart the People of God. They worshipped elsewhere than the Temple in Jerusalem and for many years, followed kings who led away from God, not to Him.
Yet this man revealed that he knew more about the Law of God than those who studiously spend hours reading and dissecting it. He not only checked on the man, he tended his wounds, got him out of the ditch to a safe place, and made provision for him. Jesus proclaimed this Samaritan a neighbor to the wounded man.
Secondly, what if we don’t love ourselves? This has become so prevalent in our day, this self-condemnation, this believing that we’re not worth the time or effort of anyone. In this state, we don’t usually help others, because if we’re not worth the effort, why would we help someone else?
This is an indication that our relationship with the Father needs tending. I know this, I spent years there. I faked loving my neighbors for a lot of years, doing the “stuff” because it was a rule, but my heart was not there.
When I went to work on my relationship with God, I began to see just how worthy I am of love and compassion, time and effort—NOT because I’m all that and a bag of chips, but because God says so. That’s it. Not because of what I do, not because of where I live, not because of where I worship, simply because of WHOSE I am.
Now I can love from within, not because it’s a rule. I see people differently because I see me differently. (Have I mentioned that I didn’t know I have blue eyes until I was in my 40s because I never looked that closely at myself? Sadly, it’s true.)
Let’s examine ourselves today. Let’s make sure our relationship with the Lord is right according to Him. Then let’s look around us. See the grieving? Offer a hug or a beverage. See the abused? Offer your strong, quiet presence. See the addict? Offer your compassion and truth. See the broken? Offer mercy and grace.
And above all: LOVE.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
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Faye Bryant is an author, coach, and speaker who helps individuals escape the lies of the enemy, live into God’s truth, and build a better life by first feeling, dealing, and healing their way through a stuck future or an abused past, toward a deeper path of purpose, and into the unhackable life of their chosen legacy. Hers is a story of resurrection: from death to life!