What does the Bible say about loving your neighbor? What does the Bible say about loving people at all? Love is a big topic in the Bible because it circumferences 3 types of love. In Greek, pornea is the selfish cravings dealing with lust and sexual intercourse outside the bonds of marriage. Phileo is brotherly love, which is where the city of Philadelphia derived its name from. Lastly, agape, is the unconditional love that denies “self” for the care and compassion of others.
The Greatest Commandment
In Matthew 22:36-39, a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And Jesus said to him, “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.” The kind of love expressed in both of these laws is agape love. In regards to the second commandment, this love seeks for the greatest good for our neighbor. By way of definition, “neighbor” in this passage refers to anyone who is around us: our actual neighbor or the person at the desk next to us at work. Here are 7 practical tips for loving your neighbor as yourself.
Seek Out Your Neighbor
In Ezekiel 34:16a, God says, I will seek out the lost, and I will bring back the strayed. God does this so many times through his flock. Jesus did not spend His time around the saved, but the unsaved. We should model our lives after His. Seek out someone that God has placed on your heart. Seek them and love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be. Jesus ate with tax collectors, he talked with prostitutes and spent time with the sick. His reputation was not even a factor. He spent time with them because He loved them unconditionally. We have to put pride and our reputations down at the cross if we want to truly love others.
Bless Those Who Persecute You
Yes, the ones who persecute you need Jesus more than ever. Romans 12:14 says, bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. This is a reflection on Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:44 when He says, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. God has never stopped seeking the hearts of man, even in the “self-fulfilling” world we live in. He is always knocking, hoping that the unsaved will answer. We should be the same. We need to pray throughout the day for those who persecute us. And in all circumstances, show them love no matter what. It is the very least we can do considering the grace and mercy God has given us through Christ’s death.
We have all received gifts or honors because “it was the right thing to do.” You just can’t feel love from someone when they are doing something good for you because “it is the right thing to do”. People feel love when it is really expressed. “I love you,” is a very common phrase. Many times it just feels like it should be said. Really, though, it needs to come from the heart. Sometimes it is better to do something that says, “I love you” than saying it. For instance, a woman always feels a need to be cherished. As men, we need to show them that by taking them to do things that they like to do, or by stopping what we are doing to talk with them or to dance with them. The interaction is really where true love is expressed. With interaction comes connection. With connection comes a bond.
With sacrifice comes remembrance. This is why Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper”. Luke 22:19 says, and He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them (the 12 disciples), saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” The wonderful gift and sacrifice of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross covering our multitude of sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness is what we remember each time we partake in communion. I had a flat tire on the highway once, which was so old that it literally fused itself to my truck. My friend drove by and saw me. We both tried to pull it off with no avail. I ended up calling another friend, whose dad runs a body shop, and his dad picked my truck up, got the tire off, and replaced it all for free. I felt much compassion and love from him that day, especially because I knew that his love came from Christ. His sacrifice made such an impression on me that I will never forget it. I will always love and respect him for his act of compassion on me.
Be a Good Listener
We all know what it is like when we try to talk with someone and they interrupt us or ask, “What did you say again?” It feels like they don’t even care and they honestly may not. You will always feel like someone cares for you when they genuinely listen to you. Listening is a conscious choice you have to make. James 1:19 says, be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Following this model, we will show our neighbor love even if they don’t recognize it.
Respect The Boundaries
You will not be seen as loving if you break into a person’s home. You have not respected their boundaries. The same goes for the peripheral boundaries that each person has set for themselves. It is important that we as Christians can read the signs. To love like Christ is to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Salt adds flavor and seasoning to food. We are to be like salt. People want flavor. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” When we answer our neighbor like we “ought” to, they will be drawn to us. They will notice something different about us if they are not already a believer, and that is what attracts them. While respecting someone’s boundaries, they will be more inclined to converse and they will be much more receptive to what we have to say.
Feed The Good Wolf
There is an old Indian proverb about two wolves. It says that there are 2 wolves inside every person. One is full of evil wanting to kill, destroy and devour anything it can. The other is full of love wanting to look after the weak and take care of the less fortunate. The one that grows is the one you feed. The Christian’s “good wolf” is the Holy Spirit. When we are feeding it by reading the Word, spending time in prayer and worshipping our Father, we will be fully equipped to let His light shine into the darkness and to love our fellow man in all circumstances.
In order to really focus on loving others, we have to constantly be aware of how much Jesus loves us by how He laid His life down for us on the cross. When we are thankful for Him, we can really express the love needed to plant the seed into an unbeliever’s heart. I pray that we all can learn daily how to love even more then yesterday.
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The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
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