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Christian Life

How to Actually Love Your Neighbor

Most of us know the Golden Rule: “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:30). We learn it as early as kindergarten and return to it in Sunday school. But do we actually live out what it says?

When Jesus articulated this commandment in Luke 10, one of his listeners was quick to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” This wasn’t a simple question; the asker was “seeking to justify himself” (v. 29) for refusing to love the people around him. Jesus responded by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). To Jesus’ Jewish audience, Samaritans were outcasts of society and unworthy of association. Yet Jesus pointed out that the Samaritan’s love for his neighbor—an injured, needy stranger who just happened to cross his path—pleased God far more than the “righteous” people who ignored their neighbor’s need.

Today, God puts people in our path at work, on our street, in the grocery store. Too often we are consumed with our phones and our own comfort, too “busy” to love our neighbors as ourselves. But this is the second greatest commandment! We are called to love our neighbors just like the Good Samaritan, and here are four ways to start.

 

Acknowledge Who They Are

To love our neighbors, we must first acknowledge that they exist. Do you know who lives next to you on the street? In the apartment above yours? Do you see the same cashier every Monday? These people are your neighbors!

The first step to love is acknowledging other people as fellow immortal souls, people who need to know God. You might be the only picture of Christ they get for a very long time. Don’t waste that opportunity.

 

Take an Interest in Their Lives

Once you know who your neighbors are, take an interest in their lives. Get to know their families: how many kids they have, their pets, their priorities. Bring them cookies when you move to the neighborhood, or when they move to yours. Introduce yourself, strike up a conversation and ask about them.

This works with the cashier in the grocery store, too. She probably has a pretty monotonous job—you might be the only spark of joy she gets that day. To make people feel known is a reflection of God’s loving knowledge.

 

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s hard to love our neighbors. It doesn’t come naturally! But this is precisely why Jesus articulated how necessary it is. If it were easy, why would He need to tell us how to do it?

My husband and I have moved three times to three different states. Each time, we used holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas as opportunities to share love with our neighbors. I’d make cookies and we’d deliver them to our apartment complex or the houses down our street. This was extremely uncomfortable for me every single time! But we were always so glad after we did it.

 

Be Consistently Present

Finally, be present with your neighbors. Be consistently available—as your schedule allows—with your coworkers, family, friends and acquaintances. At the end of our lives, what will really matter: how much we got done or how well we loved?

God says it’s the latter.

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3 Comments

  1. sunbluie

    Posted by sunbluie on February 27, 2017 at 12:59

    Hey guys! Sorry to beat a dead horse but, I think the problem is that I’m afraid she will correct me in the future even though I don’t see her that much but I’m afraid that she will correct me because I’m wrong about a definition or concept and that she is smarter than me. But I can’t think that way and maybe it’s just that she acts like she’s smart and just rude over the years and not really smarter than me.

    I feel like I have pressure and stress to prove to her. It’s all in my mind, and maybe it’s just that I think she will correct me in the future and in reality she will never correct me, or she will be wrong. I just don’t like the thought that she is taking the same class and that she will bring me down if I ask her a question or discuss it in the future. I’m afraid that I was wrong, and that I’m not smart or intellectual and not able to memorize like others. It’s an issue on comparing myself to others smart wise. But maybe it’s just because she’s arrogant and tries to make it look like she knows everything when in reality she’s not, she’s just expected to by her parents and herself, and her worth to her is in intelligence and knowledge. I’m just afraid that she will bring me down like I’m dumb again. In the past, when I did take the class with her she did it but it didn’t bother me. It bothers me now because I’m on an A streak of all my classes and I really enjoy this class, so I’m becoming a perfectionist but all the pressure makes me not want to even try to give up mentally, but I can’t and I shouldn’t so I’m battling this in my mind. Maybe I am also jealous.

    The issue is that I’m afraid that she’ll be smarter than me and later tear me down for not knowing something or getting facts wrong.

    • billygirl88

      Posted by billygirl88 on February 27, 2017 at 19:17

      “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12
      “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10
      Don’t worry about it, just do your best. It sounds too simple, but it’s not, really, just do your best and let God handle the rest. 🙂