Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The line is in Matthew, Mark and Luke. According to the verses in Matthew, Jesus spoke this line after being asked what the greatest commandment is. The whole exchange (from Matthew 22:35-40) goes like this:
Then one of them, who was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him and saying, “Master, which is the great
commandment in the law?”
Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
“On these two commandments” Interesting, isn’t it? Love God and love thy neighbor. These are the most important commandments according to Jesus. Unfortunately, the second of these two seems to cause the most trouble and concern among Christians. It appears that we just don’t get it. What does it mean? Who is my neighbor? And, the most troubling of questions: How much should I love my neighbor? I have the answers.
Remember college? Remember that professor who said: KISS? Keep It Simple, Stupid. I’m going to apply that to answering the question of just what Love thy neighbor really means. It means exactly what it says. We need to love one another and care for one another the way we would want to be loved and cared for. We need to treat each other as equals. Whether you are worth a million dollars or you sleep in a box on the streets, in God’s eyes, we are equals.
And, how can that be?
It all traces back to “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.” Take a look at the Ten Commandments. The first three are about God, idols and the sabbath. The final seven are about how we treat others: Honor thy father and mother, Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not steal, Thou sall not bear false witness against thy neighbor, Thou shall not covert thy
neighbor’s house (Exodus) or wife (Deuteronomy) and, finally, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
In a nutshell; be nice to people (especially your parents), don’t hurt anyone and don’t want anything that doesn’t belong to you.
Those should be easy to follow, shouldn’t they? Jesus made them even easier to follow: just love your neighbor like you love yourself. Based on the way that we treat each other, we’re all suffering from low self-esteem and we don’t like each other
much. Just based on some of the comments I read from various Christians, we skipped Matthew 22.
Here’s something that is missing from Jesus’ words: EXCEPT. He didn’t say, Love thy neighbor – except if you don’t agree with him. He didn’t say, Love thy neighbor as yourself – except if he is of a different race or religion. He didn’t say, Love thy neighbor – except when you think what he’s doing is a sin. He didn’t say any of that. He wants us to love our neighbors, if you don’t care for what they’re doing – fine,tell them that, but you don’t get to treat them any different than you would want to be treated.
In closing, “What does Love thy Neighbor Mean?” It means to treat others as equals, as people worthy of your time. Treat them as you would want to be treated.