And the second is like unto it.
Can we do one part and not the other?
In Mathew 22:34-40, when asked by the Pharisees what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied:
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37- 40).
Love - an opportunity.
Over the past decades the question “Who is my neighbour?” has gained a considerable amount of attention. Considering our technologically driven world, where machines manage our communication and relationships, it is no wonder that this has become a subject of discussion. With heads bent and fingers busy, is there enough time within the few minutes when we come back up for air to actually form meaningful human interactions? Do we know the names of the people that live next door to us? A work colleague who sits two rows down from us at work? Or have we become too “busy”?
It is no wonder that we find ourselves pondering this neighbour question. Most certainly, it is important that we understand who our neighbour is considering that this is the central focus of what Jesus described within what he called the second greatest commandment.
Personally, I believe my neighbour is everybody and excludes nobody! Especially those whom the Lord brings into my life for any reason whatsoever. Plus, those who are a far off when it is within my power to help them, to love them and to be a light to them. I believe the people gathered around Jesus on that day did not stop to ask who their neighbour was, because it excluded no body and included everybody. We are to love everybody.
Who then is everybody if we are not taking the time to really know anybody? To me this means, in the world we live in today, love has become an opportunity.
In 1 John 4:8 we read, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” What this tells me is that if we are not walking in the second greatest commandment, it is near impossible to be walking in the greatest command which is to love God. We cannot claim to love God and not extend this love to others - our neighbours, everybody, fellow human beings, no matter who they are. This love means seeing others as God sees them, treating them as we would like to be treated - as ourselves. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or a sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. “.. “Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:20-21).
Love - an intentional decision.
The call to love everybody may at times seem too great, out of reach even, but I believe that if Jesus commanded it then it is within our power to do it. It becomes defeating when we try to rely on our own strength and emotions to walk in this love. We must ask Jesus to give us the strength, the yearning and the desire to love others, especially those that may be unlovable or those with difficult personalities. Love then is a decision. One we can make on a daily basis when we say prayers like, “God show me how to love others as you love them.”
Once we love others, no matter who they are, then only are we truly walking in love and loving God. Galatians 5:14 reads, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” So now we can see that the second one is like unto it! It is one and the same. Therefore, let us hold steadfast the love of neighbour with which we fulfil all of the greatest commandments on which “all of law and the Prophets hang”.
More reading: Galatians 6