Matt 22:34-40 (HCSB)
34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Jesus says that the second most important commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. There are many ways we can love our neighbor as ourselves. In this study, we are going to look at some very important ways we can love our neighbor as ourselves.
John 13:34-35 (HCSB)
34 “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Overall, the way that we can love others as ourselves is to love people the way Jesus loved people. In other words, we are to ‘go out and be Jesus to others’.
A Christian is someone who loves people the way that Jesus loved people.
Matt 25:31-46 (HCSB)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.’ 44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
One way we can love our neighbor as ourselves is by taking care of the needs of others. Jesus basically says here that the way we treat all other people is how we treat God, which is probably why Jesus said the second greatest commandment, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves, is like the first greatest commandment, which is to love God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds! If we deeply love another person or group of people, we are deeply loving God. If we hate another person or group of people, we are hating God. If we take care of the needs of any other person, we are taking care of the needs of God. If we don’t take care of the needs of others, we are not taking care of the needs of God.
A Christian is someone who treats others the way he or she wants to treat God, which includes taking care of the needs of others.
1 Tim 5:8 (HCSB)
8 Now if anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Another way we can love our neighbor as ourselves is by providing for our own relatives, and especially for our household.
A Christian is someone who provides for his or her own relatives and especially his or her own household.
Heb 10:24-25 (HCSB)
24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Heb 3:12-13 (HCSB)
12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
Other ways we can love our neighbors as ourselves is by being concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, by encouraging one another daily and by meeting together regularly.
A Christian is someone who is concerned about other Christians in order to promote love and good works, someone who encourages other Christians daily and someone who meets with other Christians regularly.
Luke 6:27-36 (HCSB)
27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks from you, and from one who takes away your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do [what is] good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do [what is] good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Another way we can love our neighbor as ourselves is by loving our enemies.
A Christian is someone who loves his or her enemies.
Matt 6:14-15 (HCSB)
14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
Another way we can love our neighbors as ourselves is by forgiving others.
A Christian is someone who forgives everyone.
Mark 1:14-20 (HCSB)
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” 16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 17 “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.
Another way we can love our neighbors as ourselves is by trying to help them have a personal relationships with God. This passage takes place right as Jesus was in the process of selecting his 12 disciples whom he would teach for 3 years before going to the cross. At this stage, Jesus seems to be declaring two different messages to people. To the general masses, Jesus’ message was,“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”, while Jesus’ message to certain individuals was, ‘Follow me’, and/or, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’
Question: What did Jesus mean when he told Simon and Andrew, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fish for people?’
Answer: Up to that point, Simon and Andrew’s job had been to catch fish by casting nets into the sea and pulling them back up. Jesus was telling Simon and Andrew to leave their current jobs and literally and physically go with Jesus. He also told them that He would make them catch other people into the net of a relationship with God. In other words, Jesus wanted to have a personal relationship with these men and for these men to get other people to also have personal relationships with God.
Question: At this stage in Jesus’ ministry, since there does seem to be two different callings, which calling do we apply if we desire to be Christians today? If we want to be Christians, do we just ‘repent and believe in the good news’ or do we ‘follow Jesus and allow Him to make us fish for people?’
Answer: First, part of Jesus’ message to the general masses was that the kingdom of God was near, but for us, the kingdom of God has already come. In terms of time, we are on the other side of the kingdom of God coming. So it wouldn’t make sense for us to repent and believe that the kingdom of God is near, because, for us, it has already come!
Second, since Jesus commanded the apostles to teach all nations to obey everything Jesus had commanded them, and since He told the apostles (at least two of them) that he would make them fish for people, it stands to reason that ‘fishing for people’ falls under the umbrella of what the apostles were to teach the nations to observe. Jesus was out fishing for people, he selected others to help Him fish for people, and he commanded those others to command everyone else desiring a relationship with Him to fish for people.
A Christian is someone who fishes for men, which means he or she helps other people get into a relationship with God.
Decision: Are you ready to make the decision to love your neighbor as yourself? If so, start doing the things we looked at today.