Commands of Christ

Love Your Neighbor

Where is this command found?

“And the second [commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:39-40

Applying This Command

When a lawyer asked Jesus to name the most important commandment, Jesus stated, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). Then Jesus stated,“And the second
is like unto it” (Matthew 22:39). The Greek word translated is like is homoios, which means “resembling, such as, the same as.” Jesus’ statement is a very significant statement because it means that when we love our neighbor, we actually love God.

There is solid Biblical support for this concept, because we are all made in the image of God. Therefore, if we despise or curse a fellow man, we are also despising God.This is the actual teaching of Scripture, which states, “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker” (Proverbs 17:5). James also makes this connection when he writes about the tongue.“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (James 3:9). This very point was also affirmed by Jesus, when He said to the disciples,“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

God created every person in the world, and one day everyone will stand before God’s throne to be judged. However, God loves them so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for their sins so that they would be spared His judgment. God also knows the heart and mind of every person in the world. He knows when a heart is seeking Him, and He arranges circumstances to bring a believer to that person or to bring that person into contact with a believer. If we fail to receive our neighbors with sincere and genuine love, we fail to show them the light and truth of the Gospel.

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Matthew 22:39–40, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Love Your Neighbor.

Romans 13:8

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

Philippians 2:3

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

James 2:8–9

“If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”

I John 3:17

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

I John 4:20–21

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

Galatians 5:13–14

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

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Study Question

Q: Jesus taught that if a man wants to be His disciple he must “hate his own life.” How is a person to love his neighbor as himself if he is to “hate his own life”? (See Luke 14:26.)

A: In order to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must first have a proper love of ourselves. Such a love must be based on the realization that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (See Psalm 139:14.)

God has designed all of our unchangeable characteristics, such as family, birth order, gender, time in history, ethnic origin, mental capacity, and physical features, to accomplish His specific purposes in and through our lives. David stated in Psalm 139:16, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

If we reject God’s design of ourselves, we will not only resent God as our Designer, but we will tend to project the same negative attitude toward others, who are also created by God.

Jesus explained that the love we have for ourselves is demonstrated in how we take care of our own needs. We are to have this same care and attention for the needs of our neighbors.

“If any man come to me, and hate not … his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). The word translated hate means “to detest … by extension to love less.” In order to be Christ’s disciples, we are to not love anything, even our own lives, more than we love Him. Following His example, we should not selfishly look only at our own needs, but we should be alert to the needs of others and be prepared to meet them (see Philippians 2:4).

There could be no greater example of this than what was done by Jesus Christ, when He laid down His life for all people. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

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