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Love Thy Neighbor

Jesus said unto 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 first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, You shall love your
neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

When we make the decision to follow Jesus, we make the decision to love others. When questioned by the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said that loving our neighbor was second only to loving God. For us as Christians, loving others is not an option, it is a command.

Our love for others stems from the fact that God first loved us. He didn't love us because we were good, or somehow worthy of His love. No indeed, The Bible makes it quite clear that we are all sinners, and there is not one who is righteous, or deserving of God's love. Yet while we were dead in our sins, God showed His love to us by sending His only Son, Jesus, to rescue us from our sin. God loved us that much. God is love; He loved us, and He loves others. Therefore we must love others as well.

Love won't just happen by accident. We have to be intentional about loving others. In our modern lifestyle, we get so caught up in our own busy-ness that we often forget that we are here to model the love of God to others. It's just human nature to think of ourselves first, but in order to be Christ's followers we have to make the intentional effort to love others. And that means ALL others. We don't get to play favorites. We aren't given the option to pick and choose who we will show love to - we must love everyone. Everyone we meet is created by God, in His own image, and so has value and dignity in God's eyes.

Love is an action word - it is going to require action on our part. It's going to cost us something: it may cost us time, energy, personal involvement, or our resources. It requires that we go the extra mile; doing more than just the bare minimum. To truly love is to give sacrificially. God gave up His only Son, sacrificing Him out of His great love for us. We must be willing to love sacrificially as well. Without action, love is just an empty word.

If loving our neighbors is the second greatest commanment, then our failure to do so is a sin. We can make excuses all we want to, but if we don't love others sacrificially, we are not following Jesus' command. We need to recognize our excuses for what they are, and confess them to God. We need to ask Him to help us develop a loving and compassionate heart. We must learn to look outside of our own busy lives and our own concerns, and instead look intentionally for ways we can show love to others.


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