And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” This command is second only to “love the Lord your God…” At first glance, these two commands appear to be simple and straight-forward. But, upon further reflection, they are deep and difficult, perhaps beyond anyone’s ability to fully comprehend or to fully comply with.
Let’s simply look at scripture for clarification. Keep in mind that some verses focus on love between believers, and some verses apply to our relationships with all people:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:7-8)
We love because he first loved us. (1John 4:19)
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (1John 3:14)
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1John 4:20-21)
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (2Thessalonians 1:3)
What about you? How deeply do you love others? Is your love for others increasing?
For Further Reflection
Matthew 5:43-48: Love your enemies.
Mark: 12:28-34: The greatest commandments.
Luke 10:25-37: The good Samaritan.
Romans 13:8-10: The continuing debt to love one another.
1Corinthians 13:1-13: The “Love” chapter.
Galatians 5:13-15: Serve one another.
James 2:8-9: The royal law found in scripture.
1John 3:10-18: How we know the children of God.
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