How to Love Your Neighbor
The main thought in these verses is 19:18 “but love your neighbor as yourself.” The reason why I am to love my neighbor is because God says of Himself: “I am Yahweh”. The main reason why God is the reason I can love other people is because God is loving.
The word “BUT” separates the CONTRAST between unlawful/ungodly behaviors and the main behavior which Christians should exhibit.
The ungodly behaviors are noted with the words “you must not.”
There are TEN ungodly behaviors. To put it another way: there are ten ways we don’t love one another. To put it in the positive: the Bible speaks of ten ways I can learn to love one another.
These are representative, but not an exhaustive list. In other words, I can begin to love my neighbor when I start to work on these behaviors. I have listed each contrasting words with a scale. You can judge for yourself how much you are able to love your neighbor. Each person may be good in some behaviors and in some others, each person may have to develop Christlike qualities.
TEN WAYS TO PROPERLY LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
1. Be a GIVER, not a CONSUMER (19:9-10)
2. Be a TRUTHTELLER, not a LIAR (19:11)
Difference between deception and lies
3. Be a GOD-WORSHIPPER, not a SELF-WORSHIPPER (19:12)
4. Be a WORKER, not a ROBBER (19:13)
5. Be a HELPER, not a HURTER (19:14)
Notice that fearing God (or respecting God is related to how we treat other people who have it harder in life than I do. If I treat the least of these with respect and dignity, then I am treating God with respect and dignity. If I treat the least of these with hatred and curses, then I am cursing God.
6. Be a STRAIGHT SHOOTER, not a PERVERTER. (19:15)
When it comes to doing the right thing, you have to shoot straight. There are no shortcuts to justice. Many people want to twist justice for their own reasons. They want to favor some people above others. This is perverting justice, not administrating it.
7. Be a PROTECTER, not a GOSSIPER (19:16)
Many times people will go around on a “whisper campaign” to hurt someone else. Instead of engaging in this kind of campaign, you need to be the kind of person who prevents it from happening.
Unless you have a Biblical reason to speak ill about someone, you need to be quiet. If you hear someone who is using non-Biblical reasons to speak bad about people, you have the right to stop them. How you do that leads us to the next way we can love our neighbor.
8. Be a MEDIATOR, not a MONSTER (19:17)
The point of the rebuke in these verses is to point out a sin. Instead of getting mad and even, you have to get to the problem. This is called loving confrontation. Jesus modeled it and taught it to His disciples in Matthew 18:15.
9. Be a FORGIVER, not an AVENGER (19:18)
Jesus was illustrating this when He said to “turn the other cheek.”
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
Jesus spent much of His time teaching His disciples how to forgive one another. Forgiveness is a major part of loving people. This is also why it appears at the end before “loving your neighbor.”
Jesus said that without forgiveness there can be no remission of sins. He also connected the forgivenss of God with how we forgive other people. Forgiveness is a major part to the process of loving God and loving people.
For the last one, I want you notice that there are five times in which the text says: “I am Yahweh.” There is a direct connection between how I relate to God and how I relate to other people. God’s character is glorified or denounced by how we treat those who are different than ourselves, those who need hope, but who are helpless. Notice the groups of people whom God cares about:
THE KINDS OF HELPLESS PEOPLE GOD CARES FOR THE MOST
He cares about the poor and the foreigner (19:10)
He cares about us and how we speak about Him with other people around us (19:12)
He cares about the disabled (19:14)
He cares about the powerless (those we put into jeopardy by what we say about them) (19:16)
He cares about the members of the church (19:18)
(In context this is the nation of Israel – the ones set apart to show God’s love to the world. In application, this the church – the ones now set apart to show God’s love to the world by how we treat one another. John 13:34-35)
When we look at the kinds of helpless people whom God cares about the most, you will see that we have much more work to do as a church to reach the people God cares about. He doesn’t just care about the people who’ve got it all together. He cares about the helpless and hopeless.
As a church, we can easily miss this thrust about God’s mission. God says that He cares about the hopeless and helpless. Jesus defined His ministry in Luke 4 as reaching out to the powerless. The parables He spoke about whom we should reach were mostly about those who needed His help. Our failing as a church is that we spend time reaching people who seem to have it all together. If we would spend more time reaching out to the people God cares about the most, He just might give us more people to help out.
I think it is significant that God is moving in the Southwest school district to transfer the backpack program out from the school and to the churches through the ministerial alliance that is going to be formed. God may be teaching us a group of people to reach out to as Christians, no matter what church we attend. He is also teaching that no one church can reach out to of the hopeless and helpless.
10. Be a LOVE-REVEALER, not a LOVE-HOARDER
What do I mean by this? We are the ones who are called to show God’s love to other people. The Gospel is not meant for me to just take it and keep it for myself. I am called to share the Gospel. The Gospel is the love of God revealed to the world.
So if God revealed His love to you, don’t you think you should be sharing that love with other people?
“this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” “Do I put under a bushel? NO! I’m going to let it shine.”