Love thy neighbor (Mark 12:31) is basically a common and familiar verse, that most people, even those who don’t have a concrete and absolute understanding of the Bible, recognize. But do we really grasp the meaning behind that scripture, and commandment from the LORD?
First off – Jesus spoke these infamous and prolific words within a conversation He was having with a scribe. The scribe was inquiring and wanted to know the first commandment to follow.
The first commandment, Jesus told the scribe, was thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength(Mark 12:30).
But what about this “love thy neighbor” commandment? What’s this all about?
In Jesus’ time, neighbors were considered those in their village or town; or people they’d ordinarily see on a regular basis. Of course, it also applied to those travelers/foreigners and such. To be hospitable and kind and openly generous to others. I guess today it still implies much of His sentiment, like we should share the “love of Christ” with others in and around our neighborhoods. To love others as Christ loved us (John 15:12).
The fertile landscape of “neighbors ” is far and wide in this generation and openly includes all of His children. Today with our modern technology, which Jesus’ time didn’t have…we are able to endeavor a richly rewarding outcome based on Jesus’ commandments by loving/serving our neighbors. We have advantages and access to things that wasn’t available in Jesus’ days where we are able to serve neighbors more readily.
Recently, an elderly widow moved on our cul-de-sac. A small community. The widow was grieving deeply as she had recently lost her beloved husband of 50 years plus. She began taking walks behind our homes in the deep woods and got lost a couple of times. Emergency workers had to come and locate her two times. This started a “neighbor” saying unkind things and made major assumptions concerning her behavior, which was anything “but loving or compassionate.” It disturbed me greatly, not only because it is a lack of respect for our neighbor but going against all of Jesus’ commandments.
I guess to sum it up, “love thy neighbor” is being mindful, it means that your neighbor is “everyone all around you” and that God places us in situations where you will have to love neighbors as yourself, whether you want to or not.
And like the “individual” on my block, sometimes your neighbor might not be the most pleasant person, or someone you wouldn’t want to interact with, or even relate to at, or on any level. However, bear in mind and in your heart, that the LORD will never let an opportunity go by where He will want to use you as a vessel of his love and His timely message.
His open invitation to “love thy neighbor” extends to all of His children, to obey, to surrender and acquiesce to His ways. By shining His light and truth.
When we live to the fullest, we can be, in and for Christ, being “neighborly” comes naturally.
Especially with His Spirit guiding us!
“Father, God – may I be mindful and aware of my neighbor’s needs and never fail to be a willing and capable vessel in Your loving name, Amen.”