Love your neighbor as yourself without making excuses.
One of the greatest commandments we have is to love
our neighbor as we love ourself. However, this
commandment is so profound that we often come up with
excuses in order to avoid obeying God’s word. Just
like the "expert in the Law" in Luke 10:25, who attempted to come up with an excuse, by redefining his neighbor, we too invent our own excuses to avoid loving our neighbor as the Bible commands.
Here are four excuses we use to avoid loving our
1. We change the word, "Love" to another word that
requires less effort, such as "tolerate" or
"understand". Afterall, one does not have to
work as hard in order to "Tolerate your neighbor
2. We replace the word "neighbor" with "friend"
or "family member". We would all rather love our
friend or brother or grandmother instead of a
neighbor that we may not know at all. According to
Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, our neighbor
is anyone we may meet today who needs our help or
3. We simply ignore the last two words of this great
commandment. That way, it will be much easier to
love your neighbor, since any kind deed that you
may do for your neighbor will suffice. However,
if you are to love your neighbor as yourself, the
demand increases greatly. It is then not enough
to perform some act of kindness for a stranger,
for you must do for him exactly what you would do
for yourself if you were in his situation. Your
kindness must not stop until you have done for
him what you would have wanted him to do for you.
We call that, "The Golden Rule", (Matt. 7:12).
4. The final excuse we often do with this commandment
is to change the word "neighbor" (singular) to
the word "neighbors" (plural). Once we do this,
we can feel overwhelmed with the idea of trying to
love everyone in our community. Since we do
not have enough hours in the day, nor enough
resources and energy to love everyone just like we
would love ourself, we therefore treat everyone
the same. We ignore them equally.
But the Bible says, "Love your neighbor (singular)
as yourself. That means "one person at a time"
or "one family at a time". There is no need to
feel overwhelmed in loving one neighbor we may
come across tomorrow who needs help.
In the story of the sheep and the goats in Matt. 25:31,
those who Jesus described as the sheep were the ones who found time to love their neighbor as they loved themselves. They fed the hungry, made the lonely feel
welcomed, took care of the sick, visited those who were in prison and gave clothes to those who had none. They did this one person at a time, regardless
of whether they knew that person or not. These are
the people who will be in Heaven.
As you are to love yourself and take care of your
personal needs, you must also love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself...without making excuses. As Jesus said in Luke 10:28, "Do this and you will live".