What Jesus Taught About Loving Our Neighbors

Aug 28, 2023

What Jesus taught about loving our neighbors


Years ago when I belonged to another church, I heard a woman say to her friends as they walked through the building: “I love everyone, but I don’t have to like them!” This is not what God meant: for Him, liking is a part of loving someone. This is also not what Jesus taught about love and how we are to treat our neighbors, no matter that they live in our own neighborhood, in another part of our city, or across the world. All the human beings in this world are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and are God’s children, no matter what they have done in their lives and no matter how different they may be from us. Jesus’s Two Great Commandments say that “we are to love our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and all our body–the totality of who we are, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:27).


He was interpreting the 10 Commandments of Exodus 20. Today I am writing about the ones regarding our neighbors: we are not to murder, or commit adultery, or steal, or give false testimony against our neighbor or to covet anything that belongs to our neighbor from his wife to his servants, to his work animals, or to anything else that belongs to the neighbor.


Jesus expanded on the 10 commandments in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, Chapters 5, 6, and 7. Do not be angry with your brother or sister. If they should hold anything against you, first be reconciled with them before you bring your gift to the altar. Settle matters with your adversary before you get to court, or you will lose. Don’t look lustfully at another woman, that is committing adultery in your mind. He was talking about giving up the judgments and prejudices and sins that we all carry in our hearts and minds towards people that are different from us. He emphasized that it is not just they who suffer from our judgments, we do, too. As He said, we will be judged by how we judge others (Matthew 7:1-3).


There is a lot of healing to be done in us in these passages. First, we need to love and forgive ourselves for all our flaws/sins/weaknesses before we can love anyone else. This may take just a decision on our part that if God can love and forgive us, then, surely, we can love and forgive ourselves. Then, we need to give up our judgments, and all that we hold against our neighbors, against anyone in the human race. And when, over time, we give up these judgments and prejudices through asking God to heal what is unloving in us, then we are free to be a conduit of God’s love to Everyone we meet, to all other human beings of this world. We are no longer self-protecting or projecting any sin of ours onto other people. And, when we no longer judge them or try to take advantage of other people, we have the opportunity to change how we feel about ourselves. Because it is how we view ourselves and our “sins” that colors how we view every one else. We must give up our judgments and the fear in us that perpetuates the judgments within us.


We are all equally loved and forgiven by God. All we have to do is to turn back to Him, to repent of all that stands between us and the Lord, in order to be able to love and forgive who we are, too. Then, with all the stuff in us that has embarrassed us and caused us to judge ourselves and been difficult for us healed by God, we, too, can take in God’s love for us. This is when we can truly pass on God’s love and forgiveness, peace and joy, and all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): “love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and humility,” wherever we go and to whomever we meet. We become a conduit for God’s love, often just by our interest in and attention, being present, to another person.


It is not that we have become perfect in loving God and others, but that we now totally accept our imperfections and see the goodness of the other person in spite of what they have done in their lives. Each of us has the potential for love and forgiveness and mercy and justice, regardless of what we have done or will fail to do in the future when we are desirous of truly loving the Lord our God with all of who we are, the “good, the bad, and the ugly” as the old western movie describes it. And, what a relief it is to love God and all His people and to be loved in return! Amen!


Questions to ponder over the week: How do I deal with the judgments I make about other people? Do I seek healing and forgiveness from God, or do I just hang on to them? Can I love and forgive myself for all that I am, all that I’ve done? Or do I refuse to even think about my sin? What would I have to do to give up these judgments and prejudices, my unwillingness to see others as children of God? Can I start with myself, loving and forgiving me as God loves and forgives me?


Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who can see ourselves and others as God sees us. May we pass on God’s kind of love to all the people we meet.


Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.


Two Announcements

  1. I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at patsadams@gmail.com and I will email it to you, free of charge.
  2. My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.







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