Love Your Neighbor as Yourself: 7 Practical Tips

by Derek Hill on August 20, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

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.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

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.

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.

Be Real 

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.

Sacrifice 

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.

Conclusion

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.

Looking for some more Related studies?

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Resources

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

www.youtube.com “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love” by Jars of Clay



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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert August 20, 2012 at 8:54 am

Great article, Derek,
Much to ponder here. Too many times I am in too much of a hurry to stop and show love like I should. While reading your article, I was impressed with just how important it is that those you love know that you love them…and how important it is that you show them. Thanks again, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Derek Hill August 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Thank you Robert. America has definitely embedded a hurried lifestyle into all of us. We all need to slow down and enjoy the moments that we do have. Love isn’t on a “time crunch”. I am convicted to slow down and show love also. God bless you brother.

In His Name Always,
Derek

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Michael August 20, 2012 at 9:51 am

thanks for the article Derek. It was very enlightening to read. I try to put all the examples in the article into practice but sometimes I just fall too short of it.

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Derek Hill August 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Thank you for your kind words Michael. Im with you 100%. As Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We all fall short in expressing love to others, but Christ will always forgive us as we move on to being stronger with Him each day. God Bless!

In His Name Always,
Derek

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Jack Wellman August 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Superb as always Derek. I agree with Robert and Michael. I think an important part of this verse and most often overlooked is that we are to love our neighbors but also ourself. That doesn’t mean a selfish love. Let me explain. Far too many Christians are so hard on themselves and so unforgiving and don’t like who they are…but the thing about this verse is that we are to love our neighbor yes, but in context, we are to also love ourselves for God has fearfully and wonderfully made us and so when we hate or don’t like ourselves, then it will be hard to love our neighbors. I love your work brother and love my neighbors…so much that knowing that they are presently lost, I risk being rejected by them for the sake of sharing the gospel. Great work as always friend.

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Derek Hill August 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Thank you for your kindness here, Jack. I agree with you also that we need to love ourselves too. It is when we are in sin that we really fall into hating who we are and what we do. When we are focused on the bad we do, we can’t focus on loving others. Thank you for your wisdom in this. Rejection is definitely worth risking considering the reward ahead and because of Christ’s unconditional love for us that brought Him to the cross to be an eternal sacrifice for all. All the praise goes to Him!!

In His Name Always,
Derek

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Susan L. Torres August 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm

As a believer in Christ I firmly agree with your writings. The perplexing situation is an actual next door neighbor family for the past 9 years that have lied to the entire block of different families about frivolous things over these years like we are in grade school.I have painstakingly thought my family what you have write,turn the other cheek,etc. These neighbors have the pole on speed dial and always are screaming obscenities and teaching their young children to hate.it is quite sad. In a period odd 7 weeks recently while my Mother moved across country and stayed with us till securing her home, the minors led by a overbearing, loud, rude matriarch called the police 7 times over refocus things and spread rumors all over the neighborhood, while wiping feces on our van!! Things have settles down for a moment and we have to be very careful with our comings and goings and is our children play outside we always have an adultoutside…we have been very good to them over the years in countless ways and many issues they have gone through, but as a believer, it is a horrible situation.Thank you as I am sure we are not the only Christians that suffer these types of persecution..we are not at liberty to move yet because of finances, my eldest 23 yr Olds Daughter and myself are on SSD AND it cost so much for a new place..please pray for our family!! :-)

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Derek Hill August 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Hello Susan. I am sorry to hear about your trials and struggles. God is good always though. Prayer is a powerful weapon and when you pray in faith, God always responds whether it is that second, tomorrow or 5 years from now. He will answer in His perfect timing. James 1:2-4 says, “count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Every trial you experience builds a stronger bond with God as you rely on Him, only, to help you and guide you through it. I strongly recommend getting together with your fellow sisters in Christ and praying together as a group for your trials and for theirs as well. You will all grow closer as friends and to God as well. God Bless!!

In His Name Always,
Derek

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Eden Life Christian Magazine December 14, 2012 at 8:24 am

Very practical tips. Love is an action word…

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Derek Hill December 15, 2012 at 1:41 am

Amen! Love is an action word. Thank you for stopping by WCWTK. God bless you!

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vinson December 19, 2012 at 7:40 am

Pastor, thanks for your advice. I am indeed ‘born again’ in this matter. God bless you.

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Derek Hill December 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Your welcome, although I am not a pastor. I am blessed as a writer and I am blessed by your comment also, Vinson. God bless you!

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Viktor December 30, 2012 at 1:43 am

Dear Derek,

I really like your article. I would like to explain/teach my 5 year old daughter the concept “love your neighbors as yourself. The best way is through stories suitable for kids. Could you or any one recommend such a story?

Thanks,

Viktor

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Derek Hill December 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

Thank you Viktor. I am a huge fan of Veggie Tales and, although I have not seen “Are You My Neighbor”, I would recommend it. It is two different stories about loving your neighbor. You can always take stories like the “good Samaritan” from the Bible and tell it to your daughter in a fun way. You can find that passage in Luke 10:25-37. It is a perfect story for little ones. The Samaritan man really cares for the man who has been beaten and left for dead on the road. God bless you and your daughter :)

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calisto okello April 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

wish to enjoy and continue with biblical teachings

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Derek Hill April 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I’m with you Calisto! I always enjoy learning more about the Bible and its values! God bless!

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Steve Seo August 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Dear Derek

Thanks for this wonderful article. This is a helpful reminder and guide for me to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

May God bless you.

Steve

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Derek Hill August 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Thank you for your kind words Steve! May God continue to bless you as you stay on the straight and narrow path. I recommend reading some of the other writers articles as well. They are all very gifted! God bless you!

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melanie September 16, 2013 at 8:44 am

I struggle with loving others. More often than not I not I dislike them and have a general loathing of most people.

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Derek Hill September 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Hi Melanie. Let me encourage you with a couple different scriptures from the Bible. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may know what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” You see, when we all decide to follow Christ we need to change our bad habits and turn away from sin. It is a conscious effort we must make to strive for holiness every day. I encourage you to ask God in prayer for Him to soften your heart and your mind towards others that you have issues with. The second verse is Romans 5:8 which says, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Of all people, Christ certainly had reason to loathe us for how messed up we are in sin, and yet his love was expressed to every single one of us. Not one person was left out of the cross when He bled for us. I encourage you to keep this verse on your heart. Everyone is a human being and even in the hardest times, we should keep striving to love those that drives us nuts! I hope this helps. God bless you Melanie!

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anonymous March 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I really find it hard to love people. Especially Christians as I find most people tend to hate me. They just tend to have a dislike towards me no matter how nice I am. Infact the nicer I am the more peoples dislike for me grows. I find people at my church make no time for me and just I feel very judged and unaccepted there which ultimately makes it very hard to love myself and anyone else. I’m really struggling with this and find the best way to resolve this problem is to keep myself away from everyone. I guess I will just keep on praying for a soft heart and just accept that only God loves me.

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