Key Verse: “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Mark 12:31
According to Jesus, loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the Greatest Commandment. But He doesn’t stop there. The second greatest commandment should be an outcome of the first. When we love God with our entire being it naturally creates an awareness of the people around us. Jesus is the perfect example of living in all-out love for God and in loving service to others. So, let me ask, “Do you love like Jesus?”
Before you answer, let’s first consider how Jesus responded to the young lawyer who asked, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Rather than giving a list, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. You see, the Jewish rabbis had redefined “neighbor” to mean only other Jews. So Jesus broadened the scope of their thinking to include loving people who did not look like them or live like them. It was the Samaritan, not the priest or the Levite, who demonstrated Christ-like love. He showed kindness, even though it came at great personal cost and inconvenience.
In order to put today’s verse into action we need to realize that our neighbors are not limited to the people who live next door or who go to church with us. It even goes beyond the lost people at work and at school. Our neighbors are also the strangers we pass at the shopping center and in grocery store. Loving like Jesus means we seek to benefit those people, even at our own expense.
If we’re honest, most Christians would have to admit that we don’t even love other believers the way God says we should. We’re told in 1 John 4:20, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Now, we may not come out and say that we hate another follower of Christ, but the negative relationships in many churches strongly suggests that it’s there, just the same.
By connecting these two commandments, Jesus urges His followers to be extensions of God’s heart and God’s hands. When we obediently love the Lord with all that we are, we also love other people unselfishly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to love me more; I need to love God more. The more I love God, the better I see, love, and serve others. If you find yourself trying to muster up love for other people, then you’re not loving like Jesus loves. I promise that He will give you the opportunity to share His love today. Will you take it?