Love your neighbor as yourself

By Jennifer Moreno

Mathew 22:39 – ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’This is the second commandment that Jesus gave us.

God calls us to love each other. Through this commandment Jesus cuts to the root of our sinfulness. Which is self-love. How so?

God starts with your inborn, deep, defining human trait, your love for yourself. Yes, we are self-centered and we all want to be happy. We want a beautiful family, we all want love, we want our life to mean something, we want to be recognized for our work, we want praise, I can go on and on.

This is why Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

God wants to start through here, he knows that our self-love causes us to do this or that, to make things happen. We don’t necessarily have to learn self-love, this is something in our nature. It’s common to all of us, without exception.

So loving your neighbor as yourself means just as you want to succeed in life, help others succeed. Just like you want the best for yourself, want the best in others too. Just like you want the best of everything, clothes, food, etc., help others achieve that too. Sounds simple right? It’s easier said than done.

For many of us, this second command Jesus gave us sort of threatens our self-love. That’s because some people feel if you have to seek the happiness of someone else measured by your own self-love, you sort of forget about you.

If you’re still with me, you’ll see that Jesus knows we feel this threat. But he wants us to understand the first commandment he sent before we understand the second one.

The first commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we fulfill the first commandment, we live our lives completely loving God first above all things. We let God fill us with his joy and happiness, we let God complete us.

In other words take all your self-love, your longing for happiness, love, fulfillment, significance and focus it on God.

Once we have that down, we know that our happiness comes from God and this self love is fulfilled through him. It’s no longer about us, but it’s about him. Then we can start giving love to people because we have God’s love within us. It’s much easier to love people when we love God. Because God wants us to love people like he loves people.

He wants us to see people through his lens. Your quest for happiness will then be to long for what God wants, which is to love one another. God wants us to love our enemies, yes our enemies, without compromise.

Mathew 5:46 highlights this – “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”

Jesus is clearly showing that only loving those who love you does not bring you any reward. It takes no effort to love someone who loves you. But takes everything you got within you to love someone who is completely unlovable, someone who hates you, someone who wishes you the worst, someone who is bitter and evil. It isn’t easy, and Jesus knows this, but he wants us to try.

This command that we love one another is given special importance that Jesus wants. That’s because Jesus said that obedience to it would be the identifying mark of His disciples. He said,

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35. If we show love, we show Christ through us.

When Jesus died on the cross he died for everyone, without exceptions. He didn’t die just for the righteous, but he died for the unrighteous, he died for the sinners. Why…because he loves us. And that is what he wants us to do and when we do love our neighbors like ourselves, we fulfill the greatest commandment in his law.

Peace, love, and joy to all of you and may God bless everyone!

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