"Love your neighbor..."
It is a phrase that is heard very often in today's society. And rightly so. Jesus spoke these words as we know in the question of the "greatest command." He iterated after the wonderful words of "Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength," and said that the second greatest command was like the first in these words. "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Have you ever really stopped to think about the validity of this phrase? Do we EVER really love our neighbor as ourself? Wait...first you have to define who your neighbor is, and Jesus helped with that also (Mark 12, Matthew 22).
But, I want to look at something a bit different. Remember that phrase used many times alongside, presupposing, or even as a subject of conversation when someone wants to quote this passage in reference to judging sin? "Judge not that you be not judged..." Yeah, you know the one. Matthew 7:1. Possibly the most taken out of context verse in use today.
Let's dig a bit deeper on these two verses now with a new thought. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourself, right? Some people don't love themselves very much at all; however, many people love themselves more than anything that could ever present itself in this world. Matter of fact, they love themselves so much that it may even become sinful (James 4:10).
I love myself a fair amount. I like to think that I love my neighbors (friends, family, wife, children, parents, etc.) just as much, if not more, than myself. I guess only those folks can tell you if I demonstrate that. So, here is the task at hand concerning these two passages mentioned.
I WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN!
I love myself so much that I want to spend my eternity in heaven with my Father and my Lord Jesus, and every other precious soul that is found faithful in judgment. With that being said, I also have to grab hold of this statement if I love my neighbor as myself:
I WANT YOU TO GO TO HEAVEN!
Now that all that screaming is out of the way, let me explain a bit more. For me to get to heaven, I have to obey my Father's commands, meaning that I must submit my life to Him, repent of the old man, be baptized for the remission of sins, deny myself and take up my cross daily, and be found faithful unto death. Sometimes that may seem a bit difficult. It would be extremely difficult if I had no way to measure what I need to do. But, I DO have a way to measure!
John 7:24 tells me to judge with a righteous judgment. The back side of Matthew 7:1-5 tells me that I HAVE to judge myself based on what the Bible tells me is sin. There are many places that tell what some of those sins are.
With this said, let me bring this all together now. If I love myself enough that I want to get to heaven, and I love you so much that I want you to get to heaven, I will want to do anything I can to help you see and repent of error. Galatians 6:1-2 and James 5:19 both explain this requirement pretty well. We are to help each other identify these burdens and sins...and help to bear them!
Sometimes I am accused of being judgmental by stating what the Bible calls sin. Sometimes I am hated because I have told the truth. Sometimes I am told to "mind my own business" if you will.
But, you see...I can't. Because I am supposed to love my neighbor...as myself. I would want you to love me as yourself also to help me identify my sins so that I can get to heaven.
So, with all of this said, let's all love our neighbor...as ourselves...and help one another get to heaven!