“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Matthew 22:39
Today’s verse points to exactly what makes Christianity so difficult for so many people. It’s a simple concept, but hard to execute in practice.
The two most important Bible commandments
In the verses that preceded today’s verse, Jesus was asked what God’s greatest commandment was.
“Jesus declared, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.'”
– Matthew 22:37-38
Jesus was pointing out the first principle of faith and obedience:
“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5
Jehovah is the one and only true God. The first commandment “you shall have no other gods before me” means that there is to be nothing in our lives with greater reference or importance than dedication to God.
Loving your neighbor is difficult
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against any of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
– Leviticus 19:18
The challenge of loving your neighbor
The hardest thing in Christianity is trying to achieve the same level of love and forgiveness that God has.
This means the ability to love people who are not only difficult, but among the worst in existence.
We must always remember that, like ourselves, all were created in the image of God.
God’s grace allows for forgiveness of sin repeatedly if one is willing to repent. We, too, must forgive others.
“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”
– Matthew 18:21-22
Jesus said we must forgive others.
“Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to say, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
– Luke 17:3-4
Ultimately, the challenge of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ comes down to the ability to be able to forgive.
We must forgive to be forgiven
In two important Bible verses about forgiveness, Jesus said:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
– Matthew 6:14-15
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”