37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV)
Jesus Himself said the number one commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. What then does loving God mean? It means that we love God with our whole being. With everything that makes us human; heart (emotional, passion), mind (cognitive, mental), soul (spiritual, prayer), and body (physical, energy). All that we feel, think, say and do should reflect our love for God. Jesus said ALL; therefore we should not hold anything back. We must love Him with everything.
The number one commandment is our love for God, what is the second? We must love our neighbour as ourselves. Most of us have no problem with the number one commandment but when it comes to number two we falter. How should we love our neighbour? As ourselves; and how do we love ourselves? We:
- Want the best
- Want all that is good
- Think well of ourselves
- Want to be treated with respect
- Are kind to ourselves
- Want to be showered with blessings
- Want the abundant life
- Want nothing negative
God has called us to treat our neighbours in a similar manner.
- Give them the best. Do not give to others what you do not want for yourself or that which you no longer want. Do not give others your garbage. Give to others only what is valuable not those things that have neither extrinsic nor intrinsic value.
- Do good to them. Help them with their problems. Forgive any misunderstanding between you and them.
- Think well of them. Have good thoughts toward your neighbour. Pray for their success.
- Treat them with respect. Watch your tongue; do not be critical of your neighbour. The adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is not all true. Words do hurt and the hurt may be deeper and last longer than a broken bone. Allow your neighbour the freedom to be him/herself.
- Be kind to them. Share your time, treasure or talent with them. Take some time to say hello and share a few words. Meet a need they have with your resources or use your skills to help them with a project they are working on or that needs to be done.
- Shower blessings upon them. Pray for them. Pray with them. Show that you care about them and what is happening in their lives. Surprise them with little deeds or gifts.
- Help them to achieve the abundant life. A holistically healthy life is the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. To help your neighbours to achieve it you will need to help them to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially healthy.
- Shower them with all that is positive. Take time to encourage your neighbours. Give them something to smile about. Be honest with them.
Do these and we are obeying Jesus’ command to love our neighbours. Do the opposite and we are helping the evil forces in the spiritual battle spoken about earlier. “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17. KJV)
Who is our neighbour? All people: our best friends, our spouses, thieves, politicians, our enemies, Muslims, Rastafarians, street people, children, adults, etc.
According to 1 John 4:20-21 we cannot do number one (love God) without number two (love our neighbours).
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21. KJV)
Number one is manifested in number two. Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbours; in what practical ways can we demonstrate our love for them? We ought to know our neighbours so well that we are aware of their goals and aspirations, as well as their hurts and needs. We should meet those needs that they are unable to meet themselves.
Church members should not prefer to keep their needs to themselves, rather than share them, because they are afraid of others reactions, especially if it is because they did so and got burnt. Conversely if we have never shared our needs with others but feel we should keep our hurts and needs to ourselves; then we are not allowing our brothers and sisters to minister to us as Christ has blessed them. We are operating from a perspective that may be false or true but we cannot say for sure unless we share our hurts and needs. We should also not be upset if we suffer silently as no one can fill those of our needs that we will not let show. Pride, a weapon used by the evil forces in the spiritual war being waged for our souls, prevents us from sharing in love, the major weapon God uses to defeat those evil forces.
Our gifts and talents are given to us to serve our neighbours in the Name of Jesus. We cannot love God if we do not love the humans we come in contact with (1 John 4: 20-21). How well are you serving others? When was the last time you used one of your gifts to bless someone who was in need? The Lord has given each of us at least one gift that is the perfect solution for a need of someone in our sphere of interaction (usually, but not limited to, our Church home). Likewise He has placed a lack in each of us that can only be satisfied by someone in our sphere of interaction (usually, but not limited to, our Church home). When we can bring the two together we have the most fantastic spiritual fireworks that are beyond our wildest imaginings. You have work to do if you are not experiencing this on a regular basis.
Jesus said we, His disciples, should be known by our love. Can you be identified as a Christian by the love you are exhibiting?
Excerpt from the book “Believing Is Not Enough”