Mark 12:28-34 Amplified Bible
28 Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ 31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] [a]love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would dare to ask Him any more questions.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.
Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Sometimes, the most important things aren’t difficult to grasp.
If they seem difficult to grasp, it is most likely because we ourselves, in our all too clumsy humanity have made it so because we ourselves have deemed it to be infinitely more important to be complex than simplified – it just feels “better.”
God desires us to be exclusively devoted to Him with all of our being, and to also be loving to others who surround us.
The covenant demands of God placed square upon our character boil down to the observance of these two fundamental principles that go echelons beyond laws and reveal God’s character [God IS Love] to the very hearts of all people.
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
Mark 12:29-31Authorized (King James) Version
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
We learn many rules growing up:
Brush your teeth,
Look both ways before crossing the street,
Always tell the truth.
Which of these is most important?
What do you believe is the single most important Truth you have ever heard?
Rabbi Jesus was asked a similar question by an expert in the Mosaic Law: Of the many commands and regulations in the law of God, which one tops the list?
Jesus did not hesitate: “Love God above all”—and he quickly added the second: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And what kind of love does this refer to?
In connection with God’s love for us, this is unconditional, unconventional, love—totally gracious, totally generous, and totally with no strings attached.
Notice especially that Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This means that if we are to love our neighbors unconditionally and generously, we will be required by God to love ourselves that self same way too!
God does not make junk.
God does not make mistakes.
We are created in God’s image; we are his masterpieces.
It’s not to just okay to love myself: God expects me to celebrate the person he created me to be – every moment celebrate God exactly as God celebrates us!
The Golden Rule Jesus gave us—“Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)—is another way of saying this command to love God and honor God and love and honor our neighbor as we love and honor ourselves.
Loving others well depends at least partly on our capacity to love ourselves.
What Does it Mean to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?
Would it, Should it, Could it, surprise you to learn that loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible.
Not once, Not even twice but Eight times.
Go ahead and search for them – Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to God that He not only repeats Himself, He makes it a command.
And not just one in a list of many commands.
Rabbi Jesus coupled the command to love your neighbor as yourself with loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and with all of our strength.
James calls it the royal law.
It sounds beautiful, and it is when we obey it.
But loving your neighbor as yourself isn’t always easy.
That’s why God made it a command.
He knew we’d struggle.
Making it a commandment is actually to our benefit.
How is that?
We have to be reverently and deliberately obedient
We have to do it on purpose.
We have to be intentional about it.
Sometimes even out of our need.
But if we love God as God love us … obedience just flows from us naturally.
This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself:
1. Loving your neighbor means receiving God’s love.
Too begin to love your neighbor as yourself, you need to know two things:
you need to know what love is and that you are loved.
The Bible tells us “this is love. Not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son as a propitiation…” (1 John 4:10).
You and I are the object of this love.
God loves you.
God loves me.
Knowing this is imperative.
And not just that we are loved in a general kind of way, but deeply loved and unconditionally and unconventionally loved.
We tap into this when we understand that God loved us first. [John 3:16-17]
He’s the source of our love.
God loved us even before Jesus gave Himself for us.
God the Father is the source of all love.
Before we can give this love we need to receive it for ourselves.
You cannot give to someone what you yourself do not have.
2. Loving your neighbor means loving ourselves as well.
To love your neighbor as yourself as commanded, you need to measure love correctly.
The measurement within this command is—as yourself.
To love your neighbor as yourself you need to love yourself.
This is something that gets badly misunderstood in the body of Christ often.
It gets mixed up with dying to self and denying self as if we need to destroy our self.
This is not true.
Jesus died for each and every one of us.
If Jesus valued us enough to go through what He went through, we each have a sacred responsibility to Him to value what He values exactly as He valued it .
We need to love what He loves – us.
The Bible tells us the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus (John 17:20-23).
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. [Authorized King James Version]
When we dare to simplify it: How dare we not love what the Father loves?
Learning to love ourselves prepares and helps us to love our neighbor.
3. Loving your neighbor means showing grace.
Knowing God is love and that this love is for you is not enough.
It needs to be developed and matured.
Imagine if you had a field of good soil and a bag of top notch seeds.
Would they produce a crop all by themselves?
No. The seeds must be planted and cared for.
Grace takes the seed of His love and the soils of our hearts and souls and creates fruit for the kingdom of God.
The Bible says, “it’s God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2.13).
Loving Him and our neighbor pleases Him.
Grace helps us do this.
Grace teaches us proper love, honor and respect for ourselves and for our neighbor – our freely receiving His grace empowers us all to freely give it.
4. Loving your neighbor means acting with compassion.
From Luke’s Narrative of the Gospel, when Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with a story: the Good Samaritan [10:25-37].
Even those who have no love for God see the value of the story.
What is the bottom line of this story?
Who did Jesus say was being a neighbor?
The one who had compassion.
Compassion is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.
Compassion does something.
A heart moved by compassion cannot sit idly by while someone suffers a need.
Loving God and Loving your neighbor as you are Loving yourself is being moved by God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to help to the full extent of your ability.
5. Loving your neighbor means looking out for their wellbeing.
The NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 13 says, “love protects.”
In Philippians 2:4 it says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Loving your neighbor as yourself is to look out for other people’s wellbeing.
To look out for them is to pay attention.
You notice if they need something and then you help.
For example, their clothing tag is sticking out or they have food on their face so you let them know.
Or something more serious like when a neighbor has surgery or becomes sick.
Concerned for their health, well-being, I head over to their home with a meal or a loaded gift card so if they aren’t able to cook, they won’t have to cook, can eat.
6. Loving your neighbor means serving them.
Serving from the heart is kindness in action.
Kindness is one of the attributes of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13.
The surprisingly wonderful thing about kindness, though, is you can do acts of kindness without kindness residing in your heart.
If the kind thing is done out of duty then it isn’t love.
Jesus said he came to serve (Mark 10:45, Luke 19:10, Matthew 20:28).
God, who is love, came to serve.
For you to love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll have a heart to serve them.
Let them know you’re there for them.
If they need a ride somewhere, you drive them.
If they need their dog or cat checked on while out of town, you do that for them.
Other examples are getting their mail for them or taking them a meal if they’re not well.
Examples in a public setting are to let people in front of you in line at the store or in traffic.
7. Loving your neighbor means speaking kindly.
The childhood rhyme about sticks and stones versus words is not true.
Words build up or tear down.
God created the world using words.
The Bible says Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1).
To love your neighbor as yourself is to use words to build them up.
Speaking words of encouragement to someone who’s down is the most obvious example but there are hosts upon hosts and myriads and myriads of others.
We can be more intentional with our words by looking for and magnifying the good.
We can always find something good if we’ll take the time to look for it.
Examples of this are giving someone a simple smile, a simple compliment and simply telling someone how much you genuinely appreciate them.
8. Loving your neighbor means making allowances for other people’s humanity.
We live in a day and age when offense is as common as breathing.
Criticism is running rampant.
Love is not easily offended or critical.
Everyone does dumb things; no one is always right or knows everything.
We’re all a work in progress.
I remember sitting through a green light.
I wasn’t trying to inconvenience anyone.
I got stuck in grieving daze because a family member might die.
I remember that when I encounter people driving too slow, sitting at lights, or even cutting me off.
Maybe they have a reason.
Maybe they’re just being human.
We’re imperfect beings that do perfectly dumb things often.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt is loving your neighbor.
For example, I had someone honking their truck horn flailing their arms and cursing because I didn’t speed through an almost red light.
They were behind me and so they got stuck at the red light with me.
I don’t know why they were so angry but they may have had other pressing circumstances surrounding them that day – I prayed for them.
9. Loving your neighbor means sharing in their joys and sorrows.
The Bible says we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
Celebrating can be difficult for us at times, especially if our neighbor is getting something we have longed for.
For example, a new job, a raise, or a pregnancy.
Celebrating with them in spite of our own pain is a strong show of love.
Likewise, mourning with our neighbor can be hard if we don’t know what to say, or have recently lost something or someone ourselves.
Loving God, Loving your neighbor as yourself is showing up and being there with your heart open, allowing them to be what they are, and support them.
10. Loving your neighbor means forgiving.
Forgiveness is a big deal to God.
Bible says He planned it for us from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
Jesus frequently spoke forgiveness over others that resulted in the healing of their bodies.
Forgiveness is freely given to us and to love your neighbor as yourself you’ll pass the forgiveness on.
Jesus highlighted this in His story in Matthew 18 when Peter asks how many times is he to forgive.
He tells the story of a king who forgave an enormous debt to one of his servants.
This servant failed to pass the forgiveness on.
He demanded payment of a small debt from his neighbor.
When the king heard of it, he had his servant remanded for his debt, revoking the debt cancellation.
Jesus’ story tells us that love always forgives.
We all need forgiveness, so loving your neighbor is to forgive them as you have been forgiven.
In both the Hebrew [Old] and New Testaments we are commanded by God to love our neighbors as ourselves.
On several occasions Jesus himself says that is a part of fulfilling God’s law.
Again and again God shows us how to love others.
The call to love our neighbor is not complicated, but it can be challenging to follow.
It means more than being hospitable, tolerant, patient, and kind.
It means more than showing respect and honoring others.
It also means more than just being civil with people you disagree with—even though it also means all of that.
Loving our neighbor implies that the well-being of others matters—so we should work for justice, protection, and opportunities for others to thrive.
It means listening to others.
It also shows that the possibilities for showing love and care for our neighbors is endless and could leave us overwhelmed by all the needs for neighborly love!
Yet all of us can love our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ.
We can honor, love and respect them enough to show how the love of Jesus is forever shaping us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
As you are loved, Jesus says, so love one another (see John 13:34).
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Dear God, thank You for Your unconditional love. Lord, help me to know myself and to love myself. If I don’t feel self-worth, how can I expect someone else to cherish me? Help me to develop a healthy self-identity, remembering that I am a child of the King, created in Your image. Help me know who I really am, what I really want from life, and what I want in the person I will spend my life with. Thank you, Lord, for loving me so completely that I am being completely changed! Help me to be more aware of your Love so I may love my neighbor with the love you have for the world.
Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum
Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.