The first and second commandments are the central column of my understanding of God, man, life, and church. Jesus said, “all of the law and the prophets hang on these two”. That means that all of God’s revelation to man hang on “Love God first and most and love everyone else as much as you love yourself.” I am sorry but that is saying a lot. So needless to say I spend a lot of time digging into these two commandments. I have come to believe that these are much broader and more expansive than the Sunday school teachings of them have been.
I have been thinking a lot about the second greatest commandment lately. “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I really love myself. A lot of people would say they don’t love themselves at all, or even that they “hate” themselves, but I find that notion a little disingenuous. They do an awful lot of things for themselves. They eat. They breathe. They live. Even suicides usually end their lives because they are searching for release and or happiness, not because they are seeking to destroy themselves.
So what does Jesus mean by this statement? Jesus answered this question in the parable of the good Samaritan. The man asked, “who then is my neighbor?” Jesus’ basic answer through the parable was, “your neighbor is the person you encounter who needs help that you can give!” My understanding then is that the definition of “loving my neighbor” is doing for them what they cannot do for themselves, but that you can. Wow that changes the way I look at my friends and family. What can I do for my wife that she cannot do for herself? What can I do for my friends that they cannot do for themselves? Etc etc etc. The implications are massive, but where they usually end is when I no longer see a need.
I do not believe that is where the second commandment ends. Loving my neighbor is not just responding to crisis, although it is definitely that. It is more. It is doing what I can to see them become all they can become; leveraging my abilities and relationships to help them reach their highest potential in all realms of life. I heard someone say once that they do not want to leave any conversation, any encounter with another person without somehow making them better in some way. What a costly philosophy, but isn’t that what Jesus was talking about?
It’s worth thinking about!
It’s worth praying about!