He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”Luke 10: 27
Many of us may be familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35). Jesus tells this parable in response to an expert in the law, who is testing Him a little bit. The expert asks, “What must I do to have eternal life?” (v. 25) Jesus knows that he is well aware of the law, so Jesus asks him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (v. 26). The expert’s response is the scripture above, but a few verses later he asks, “Who is my neighbor?”
In the parable, most understand that the Samaritan is the one who “loves his neighbor.” Despite the fact that no one would have helped him if the situation was reversed, as Samaritans were considered worse than outcasts.
Who are your neighbors? There are our actual next-door neighbors, of course, but there are so many other neighbors in our lives, aren’t there? Really, anyone we come in contact with, and even people we don’t know, are our neighbors. Our enemies and the outcasts are our neighbors.
God instructs us to love them all as we love ourselves. That can feel like a pretty tall order, especially when some of our neighbors are not so easy to love! What about the neighbor who plays loud music late at night, the co-worker that leaves all the work to you and then claims the credit, or that friend that only calls when she needs something? Jesus is telling us not only to love them but to love them as we do ourselves. We treat ourselves pretty well most of the time; do we show our neighbors that type of love?
Back to the first sentence of the scripture above—in order to love anyone in our lives, we must love God first. We must love Him with our whole being—heart, mind, strength, and soul. It is a consuming love that emanates from having a relationship with Him. There is no way that we can love others well without that love for God and the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
- Do you love God wholeheartedly? Do you need to accept His love for the first time? Assess where you are in your relationship with Him.
- Pray and ask God to help you love your neighbors as you do yourself.
- Think about the “unlovable” neighbors in your life. Identify one to show love to by helping them out in some way this week.