Jesus gave us our two great commandments in Mark 12:30-31. The first is fairly easy for me. “…love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind, and all of your strength. ” I can do that. He is so worthy of my love. That one is easy for me. The second command is to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Wow. I will be the first to admit that I definitely need some work on this one. The Bible even says that if you do not love others, then you do not know God. Ouch.
God is serious when He commands us to love others as ourselves. We are to treat others exactly how we want to be treated. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
The Bible doesn’t say you only need to love those that are easy to love, or those that deserve love, or those that are nice to you. No, the Bible gives a blanket statement of “love others as yourself” and that is how God intended it to be. It is for everyone.
Now, if someone is untrustworthy, or mean, etc. You must forgive them and love them as yourself, but you do not have to be friends with them or hang around them. That would not be smart. So God doesn’t expect you to blindly trust people. That is not one of His commands to us. He just wants you to forgive others who have wronged you and love them. Do what you can for them, but if they treat you badly, then you can stay away from them as much as possible. Do not get that confused. You can forgive and love others from afar. God does not want you to harbor any hatred in your heart. It only ends up hurting you. Loving others and forgiving others frees you of that hurt, but it doesn’t mean that you then allow those people to hurt you more. I have struggled with this concept in the past so I want to make it clear.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2. This verse is a call to not only love our neighbors, but to be patient with them. Aren’t we all guilty of being harder on others sometimes? I definitely have been guilty of getting frustrated or even angry with someone for doing something I myself have done. How does that help anyone, including me?
Start today and practice loving others, forgiving others and being patient with others. Reach out to someone today, show that you love them. Do not let others frustrate you today in line, or in traffic, etc. Just love them, forgive them and realize they may be having a rough day today. Be the smiling face that changes their day, not the frowning face that just adds to their pain or sadness.
Can you imagine what the world would be like, or even your neighborhood, if we all adopted this philosophy?
‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:18