In the previous post, the most important commandment in the Scriptures has been high-lighted. We shall briefly analyze the second most important commandment as told by our Lord Jesus Christ. We find that in Luke 10:27, which goes like this . . . 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' This phrase occurs seven times in the New Testament.
Yes, 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' Just imagine, what would happen if every one is obedient to just these two important commandments of loving God & loving others. Then there wouldn’t be any place for cheating, disputes, fightings, killings and the sort. The whole world would have been a heavenly one. When one of the teachers of the law whole-heartedly agreed with the Lord’s formulation of these two comprehensive-commandments, the Lord commended him by saying, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." (Mar 12:34) And the verse goes on. . After this nobody dared to ask Jesus any more questions. Obviously meaning, the conversation between the Lord and the teachers of the law reached a satisfactory conclusion.
Luke 10:29 says, But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Then the Lord had to tell the parable of the Good-Samaritan to bring about a clear picture of who actually is one’s neighbor. According to the parable, Samaritan helped the helpless wounded-man, unlike the Levite and the priest and is thus said to have acted like a neighbor to the wounded-man. Hence, it is clear that the helpless person in our vicinity is our neighbor. It is also obvious from the above parable that the neighbor could be a stranger as the wounded-man was a stranger to the Samaritan. Hence, it can be concluded that helping the helpless person around us, even if unknown to us, is what it means to ‘love your neighbor’.
How are we told to love our neighbor? 'as you love yourself.' Everybody love themselves. This is obvious by the way they take care of themselves, protect themselves and provide for themselves to the minutest detail. So here the Lord is saying, just like how you take care of your self, in the same way, take care of others. In other words, He is saying, don’t stop at self-love, but stretch it to others in need. A saying goes like this: ‘charity must begin at home but it should not stop there’. In this context, can we say that not everybody love themselves? Do those who tend to commit suicide really hate themselves? In fact, it is not that such people really hate themselves but actually are so protective of themselves that they think that suicide is the way to escape from their uncomfortable environment. Eph 5:29 says, none of us hate our own bodies. We provide for them and take good care of them, . . .In general, we can categorize our neighbors into two groups; non-believers and the believers.
How are we expected to love non-believers? What actually is the desperate need of non-believers? Obviously,according to Bible, it is salvation. Hence, sharing the gospel is the greatest and appropriate requirement in this regard. Also, what is equally important is our life-style to be in line with the gospel. Just sharing the gospel and neglecting our life-style actually blocks a person from coming to the Lord. We should understand that people, most importantly, come to the Lord due to the effect of the Christian life-style on them. Thus, if disciplined Christian life-style is missing in our life, it is better not to share the gospel as it causes more harm than good to the hearers.
How are we expected to love believers? Here, again we should analyze what basically is the need of the believers. What is that which the devil keeps attacking in a believer’s life on a top priority basis? The quality called consistent walk with the Lord. To strip a believer of this quality, the evil-one tends to attack with missiles of hurt, disappointment, sickness, lacks, discouragement and so on. We should counter these missiles of the evil-one in our neighbor’s life with comfort, joy, healings, providing the needs, encouragement, etc.
Please note that the first four of the Ten Commandments pertain to man’s dealings with God, while the next six commandments pertain to man’s dealings with man. Those six commandments are: Honor your father and mother. Do not commit murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not accuse anyone falsely. And finally, do not crave for what belongs to your neighbor; be content with what you have. These are the broader ways of loving our neighbors through our obedience to these commands.
Actually by obeying this command of the Lord, we will be blessed tremendously. Carl Menninger (July 22, 1893 – July 18, 1990), was an American psychiatrist and a member of the famous Menninger family of psychiatrists who founded the Menninger Foundation. A man asked Dr. Carl Menninger, "What would you advise a person to do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on?" Most people expected him to reply, "Consult a psychiatrist." To their astonishment he replied, "Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person." What he meant is, by helping others; we will be protecting ourselves from breakdowns. How wonderfully psychiatry vindicates the Word of God. A saying goes like this: ‘To double your joy, divide it with someone.’
Consider below an extract from a biography on Sadhu Sundar Singh - (1889-1929), an Indian Christian missionary:
Sadhu Sundar Singh was hiking with a companion from northern India over a narrow, winding, mountainous track into Tibet. It was freezing cold and snow began falling heavily so that their very lives were at risk. As they trudged on they stumbled over a fellow traveler who had fallen exhausted and was already being covered with snow. When the sadhu asked his companion to help carry him to their destination the companion refused. “If we do that we will also die,” he said. The companion hurried on but Sadhu Sundar Singh lifted the unconscious man onto his back and gradually made his way forward. At a point where walking became easier and the snowfall lessened the sadhu found his companion who had hurried on ahead. He had frozen to death, whereas the extra effort and warmth of carrying the stranger had saved Sadhu Sundar Singh’s life and the stranger’s as well.It is clear that Sadhu Sunder Singh saved his own life from getting frozen by helping the helpless stranger. Note the tremendous power embedded in obeying the second most important commandment.
Consider another extract taken from www.biblecenter.com that goes like this:
Mr. Alter's fifth-grade class at Lake Elementary School in Oceanside, California, included fourteen boys who had no hair. Only one, however, had no choice in the matter. Ian O'Gorman, undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, faced the prospect of having his hair fall out in clumps. So he had his head shaved. But then 13 of his classmates shaved their heads, so Ian wouldn't feel out of place. "If everybody has his head shaved, sometimes people don't know who's who," said 11-year-old Scott Sebelius in an Associated Press story (March 1994). "They don't know who has cancer, and who just shaved their head." Ten-year-old Kyle Hanslik started it all. He talked to some other boys, and before long they all trekked to the barber shop. "The last thing he would want is to not fit in," said Kyle. "We just wanted to make him feel better." Ian's father, Shawn, choked back tears as he talked about what the boys had done. He said simply, "It's hard to put words to." "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).
When we are willing to love our neighbor, God will lead us in creative ways. When somebody needs some help and we are capable of helping that person, then that is the actual point of deciding to go all out to do our best. If our neighbor is blessed and encouraged by what we do, it won’t be long before he/she too starts looking around for helpless neighbors. BUT none can really love their neighbor unless he or she loves God first.
Finally, consider the verse in Gal 5:14 that says, for the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."
A saying goes like this: ‘when love and skill work together, expect a master piece.’