Here are my top 7 Bible verses about neighbors. What ones might you include?
What is the Greatest Commandment?
Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
When the Pharisees and Sadducees had gathered, who were natural enemies but had only joined together to try and test the Lord they asked Him what is the greatest commandment and Jesus being the Word of God Himself knew the answer. He said that it was to love the Lord your God first and foremost and then “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” because “On these two commandments hangs all the Law and the Prophets” meaning that the Law is fulfilled by loving God and our neighbors. The word “hangs” or some translations say “depend” is the Greek word “kremannymi” which means “to hang up” on or “suspend” on and like a door hinge, the door of heaven swings open on these two commands and Jesus indicates that it’s an imperative command, meaning that it’s not negotiable or it’s not an option. To love our neighbor means to treat them and take care of them as we take care of ourselves. Surely “There is no other commandment greater than these” two.
Who is my Neighbor?
Luke 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Jesus had just told them the Parable of the Good Samaritan and asked which of the three was actually the man’s neighbor. They rightly answered Him “The one who had mercy on him” so Jesus told them “Go and do likewise” (Matt 10:37-38). The main point is that anyone that needs our help is our neighbor because “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17) for “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1 John 3:17)?
Don’t Avenge Your Neighbor
Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
How different this is from the way of the world. When we are wronged, we usually like to say “I’ll get even” and then two wrongs are the result but Jesus taught His own to “pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:44b-45a). This is conclusive evidence that we are the children of God when we pray for those who are our persecutors, therefore we should never take vengeance into our own hands and hold a grudge against our neighbor but leave it up to God and instead “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse) Rom 12:14) and trust God to avenge anything that anyone does against us (Rom 12:19).
Pleasing our Neighbor
Romans 15:2 “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
Paul didn’t qualify this by saying that we are to please our neighbors only if they are Christians but this is a universal command. We ought to be pleasing our neighbors so that we might be pleasing to God. This type of unconditional love reflects the love of God and can be useful in drawing others to Christ. Many who were saved said that there was someone in their life that lived the Christian life not only in talking the talk but in their daily walk and their life served as a magnet to draw them to Christ. They reasoned that “If Christians lived like this, then I want that,” therefore we all ought to be living to please our neighbors and to build them up for this is the will of God.
Truth-telling to our Neighbors
Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
If someone who claims to be a Christian lies to their neighbor, they have destroyed their testimony and have brought shame to the cause of Christ. How tragic that we can speak lies to our neighbor only to be found out later to be a liar. How can we claim to be a believer in Christ and yet lie to our neighbor? Let it never be so.
The Royal Law
James 2:8 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.”
Once again, there is no qualification on loving our neighbor as ourselves only if they are believers. No, this love is not to be conditional upon whether our neighbor is a believer or not. When we love our neighbor as we do ourselves then we “fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture” which is to love God first and foremost (Mark 12:30) and next in order, love our neighbor just as we do ourselves, whether they are a Christian or not.
Consequences of our Actions
Leviticus 24:19 “Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner.”
Don’t confuse this with getting revenge. This Old Testament Law was meant to protect one another or neighbors from one another from taking advantage of or injuring a neighbor, whether physically or financially. The Beatitudes that Jesus gave amped up the Old Testament laws from the “eye for an eye” to praying for those who persecute you or as Jesus said in Luke 6:29 “whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” This doesn’t mean that Christians are to be door mats or give all of their personal property away but if someone takes something of yours, perhaps they are in need and if so, give them more. God will always bless the giver more than the one who receives. Paul reminds us to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
There has never been a greater giver than God Himself Who gave His life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28) so that whoever believes in Him won’t eternally perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16) because God didn’t send Jesus into the world to judge the world at that time but that through Him the world might be saved (John 3:17). Jesus arms were open at the cross so that any might come to Him and if they do, He will never turn away. He says to any that would listen, “whoever comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37b). For those who have repented and trusted in Him, they already have eternal life. Is that you?
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon