Leviticus 19:18 (CEB)
18You must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
Jesus is so famous for telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves that sometimes we think he said it first. In fact, the idea goes all the way back to the beginning of the Bible. God has always wanted us to have a high regard for the people we share this world with.
But what does it mean to love our neighbors, exactly? If you love somebody, doesn’t that actually mean you really, really, really, really like that person? Doesn’t it imply romance or, at least, quite a bit of fondness?
Well, Jesus would say that you don’t have to like someone to love that person. In fact, you don’t even have to know that person to love him. In his well-known “love your neighbor” story, the Good Samaritan, the two men had never met. Moreover, there was racial tension between the two men. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be social outcasts, undesirable people. Really, the Samaritan had no reason to help the other man—and, possibly, some reasons not to help him. But he did anyway.
The Bible tells us that if we see a person in need and have the ability to meet that need, but we do nothing about it, we do not have the love of God in us.
So, our directive is to use whatever we have to be a blessing in the lives of those around us. That includes people we don’t know and people we don’t particularly like.
What are some ways in which you can “love your neighbor?” Is there somebody you haven’t been particularly loving to? Is there something you can do to correct that?
If today’s devotion spoke to you in a particular way and you feel led to share your thoughts with others, please do so.