What Does the Bible Say about Loving My Neighbor?
The command to love one’s neighbor is ever-present in both Testaments, but it is clarified by the Lord Jesus: “Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31). The way Jesus presents it, loving God is first, loving your neighbor is second. But they are intertwined. When others ask Jesus who should be considered one’s neighbor, He shares the story of the Good Samaritan, showing that everyone and anyone should be considered a neighbor.
How then should a believer treat others, their neighbors? The Bible addresses this topic in several key verses and passages:
Galatians 5:13-15 “ For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
Here, the Bible shows that love is where true freedom is. There are no limitations to the brotherly love one can show, especially through acts of service. Love does not turn against its neighbor, but gives through sacrifice with joy.
James 2:8-9 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
In these verses, and the surrounding verses, the epistle writer emphasizes that love does not show partiality to status or wealth. It is for all, and should be shown equally to everyone. If one is kind to the wealthy and powerful, but ignores others, then one is not showing the same love as Jesus.
Deuteronomy 10:19 “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
This command in the law reminds the Hebrews that at one point in their history they were strangers in a strange land, and that part of loving like God means loving that person who does not resemble oneself. In context, this command also meant loving those of another faith. A great example of this kind of love towards strangers is the kindness initially shown by Boaz to Ruth when the Moabites come to glean in his fields.
Romans 12:9-13 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
This passage from Romans covers several types of love, as well as how it manifests. It is sincere, and wants good things. It is honorable and seeks to serve. It responds to needs, especially the needs of fellow believers.
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