How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Both the Old Testament and New Testament command us to love our neighbor as ourselves, so how can we do that.

Different Kinds of Love

Both the Old Testament and New Testament command us to love our neighbor as ourselves, so how can we do that? We’re frequently reminded to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:39), but what if our neighbors are impossible to love? And exactly what is love? There are four different kinds of love mentioned in the Bible. There is the friendship love (Phileo), and then there is the family kind of love (Storge). There is also the romantic kind (Eros), but then there is yet another love that is the highest form of love and it is godly or agape love. To love like God means you love people first before they ever love you (1 John 4:19), and that’s just what we need to do. This is the love that God displayed through Jesus Christ on the cross…dying for weak, ungodly, wicked enemies of His (Rom 5:6-10). Who loves like that! God does…and that’s agape love that we find Jesus displaying for sinners on the cross. Agape love, and in fact, all kinds of love, is a verb…it is what you do!

He Loved Us First

I frequently hear people say they love God, but the only reason anyone loves God is because God made the first move. In other words, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It’s not the other way around. If someone says they love God but they cannot tolerate His children (i.e., the Church), then that person is a liar. I didn’t say it…God said it in His Word. The Apostle John says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). The simple reason is that “whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21). If someone told me they loved me but couldn’t stand to be around my children, I’m not going to be happy about that. Now imagine how God feels when we say we love Him but can’t stand to be around His blood-bought children…the very ones He died for.  Something’s very wrong to say we love God while having nothing to do with God’s children.  I also believe that if someone doesn’t even love themselves, they can hardly love others.

We Must Love First

Love Your Neighbor As YourselfSince God made the first move and intervened with His Holy Spirit into our lives (Eph 2:1-5), then we must also make the first move by sharing Christ with the lost. God did not give us what we deserved (His wrath) but what we needed (His mercy and grace), so we too must give lost sinners what they need and that is the gospel! Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies and there is no other religion like that in world history. Jesus Himself told us how to deal with persecution and those who hate us for His name’s sake. We might feel like getting even with those who hate us, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). Jesus tells us plainly how the world, lost or saved, will know who Jesus’ true disciples are, and it is from a new commandment given by Jesus Christ. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). It is by this love that “all people will know that” we are His disciples.

It won’t be, “All people will know you are My disciples if you understand prophecy,” or “If you are a great theologian,” or “Your grasp of the Hebrew and Greek language is great then you are My disciples.”  No one could have sinned against us more than we have sinned against God!  It will be (should be) evident by the way we love others…lost and saved; saints and aint’s, that we are His disciples.  We need to give people what they need, not what we think they deserve.  I remember reading the fact that God didn’t deal with me according to my sins (Psalm 103:10), so let us not deal with lost people according to theirs.

Loving Your Neighbor

We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. By the way, I’ve never had a problem taking care of my own needs. Like most people, I often put my own needs first and others second, but that is sin and I repented of that…almost daitly, but my brother’s problem is my problem. My sister’s pain is my pain. One of the best ways to love your neighbor as yourself is to remember that God died for us, even while we were still wicked and ungodly enemies of His (Rom 5:6-10). He didn’t give us what we deserved but that was placed upon Christ. He gave us what we needed (Eph 2:8-9). How then can we not love others first when God loved us first…before we ever got our act together? He sought us and bought us, so we must seek others who are lost, and even be willing to suffer persecution for it (1 Pet 4). The truth sets you free…or it makes you really mad, but it is not our responsibility to save anyone. It is their response to His ability, even though it is our responsibility to share Christ with the world (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We might not be able to go into all the world, but we can at least go next door.  Either way, we must make the first move as God did with us.hospitality tips


I pray you have put your trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ and now you also have become an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor 5:18). That means, you bring good tidings from the Kingdom of God to those who are still of this world (2 Cor 4:3-4). It doesn’t matter…go we must! Let Isaiah’s call from God sink in and take it personally where the Scriptures say, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Don’t let it be, “Here am I…send Steve.”

If you have not yet come to trust in Jesus Christ, then it will be a tragic ending and eternity for you my friend (Matt 7:21-23). I pray when I write this for those who will read this, and my prayer is that if they (you!) have not yet done so, repent today and put your trust in the Savior.  It is what Jesus calls us all to do (Mark 1:15).  If you refuse to choose, with certainty, you will face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or a Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whichever comes first.  I pray that is not so with you my friend.

Here is some related reading for you: Love One Another – Bible Verses and Life Application

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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