How would your life be different if you really cared about others? Think about it for a second. We say we care about others, but do our actions reflect that? Right after Jesus told us what the Greatest Commandment was, He said, “The second one is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Loving your neighbor is as equally important as loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. So why is it easier to love God that way, but not our neighbor?
I’m the same as you. I’ve got neighbors I like and ones that I don’t. They mow their grass at inappropriate times, they host parties until 4 AM, they don’t keep up their yards or houses and they aren’t friendly. Jesus didn’t allow for those excuses here. He didn’t say love them if they’re easy to love. He said love them as you love yourself. If you would do something for yourself, you should be willing to do it for your neighbor. You should put their needs above yours.
I know this isn’t easy and I’m guilty of not loving my neighbors as I should. If we’re serious about our faith and we’re serious about seeing God’s Kingdom grow, we’ve got to shift the focus from ourselves and onto others. In Luke 10:29, someone asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He then told them the parable of the Good Samaritan. When He finished, Jesus asked, “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” They replied, “The one who showed mercy.” Then Jesus told us to go do the same.
Loving our neighbors, as illustrated in that parable, isn’t just those who live next to you. It’s anyone you see or come across who is in need. We are to love them and do for them what we would do for ourselves if we were in that situation. I saw a man yesterday sitting outside the 99 cent store playing guitar with his case open for money. I asked my wife, “Why is he sitting outside the 99 cent store and not in front of a store where people who have money are?” Her reply was, “He knows they carry cash.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the people going in there are more likely to give to him than someone at an expensive store. Even though they only have a little, they’re more willing to give. Most people who have money aren’t willing to let go of it easily. Jesus illustrated that in the Good Samaritan as well. The people who should have helped the man who was robbed, walked by on the other side of the street. The one who no one thought would help, put the man on his own donkey and walked to the next town. He took care of the stranger’s wounds. He paid for his food, lodging and medical bills. He loved his neighbor the way we’re supposed to.
What neighbors in need has God put in your life that you’ve passed up constantly? Who can you show mercy to today? I think there’s no better way to show God we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength than to love others who need it most like we love ourselves. How would your life change if you really loved others that way? How would your relationship with God grow if you did? Open your eyes today to see what neighbor God puts in your path and then love them the way you love yourself.