What Does ‘Love Your Neighbor’ Mean?

While it may sometimes be difficult to do, loving our neighbor is central to obeying God. When asked which of the commands was the greatest, Jesus responded, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37–40).

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.Proverbs 3:27

In today’s passage Solomon gives three examples of how to love our neighbors. First, we must not “withhold good from those to whom it is due” or put off our neighbor when we can help him today (v. 27). If you can help, then you should, Solomon tells us. Expressing love by helping those in need is an act of obedience to God.

Second, you must not “plot harm against your neighbor” (v. 29). This is the opposite side of the first example. On the one hand, we must go out of our way to help. On the other hand, we must avoid plotting harm. It sounds almost silly, right? Why in the world would you plan to harm your neighbor? But, if we’re honest, when we’re raking our neighbor’s leaves off our lawn for the thirteenth time, it might be a bit harder not to plan evil against him.

And finally, we must not “accuse anyone for no reason” (v. 30). The key here is the phrase “for no reason.” There are good and right reasons for confrontation, and not to confront your sister or brother can be very unloving. However, to accuse them without cause is unloving. We need the Lord’s wisdom and the Spirit’s guidance to navigate our relationships with love for others as our guiding principle. 

Understanding the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” may seem simple enough. But obeying can be challenging. Keep this command front and center in your mind today and act on it!

R. Meek

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

One thought on “What Does ‘Love Your Neighbor’ Mean?

  1. First off how do you know if those leaves are your neighbors on your lawn, the leaves blow where they will and who know if perhaps the neighbor can use some help in raking those leaves. The words of Jesus (as Christian we should be following) are as follows which is in Matthew 22: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and the second is love your neighbor as yourself. As Christians we should follow Jesus’ example and not Solomon and we do not do an eye for an eye, when Jesus spoke in reference to the Sermon on the Mount it tells us to turn the other cheek.

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