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Love Your Neighbour: an Essay on the Teachings of Jesus

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The way that God, our Creator, intends for us to live is known by every human being. How God intends for us to live is called God’s will or God’s law; Jesus referred to God’s law as His commandment or word. Jesus taught that it is God’s will for us to love our neighbor.

When asked which is the greatest of God’s commandments, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 22:37-39).

We show our love for other people with respect and appreciation for their value or worth as human beings. According to Jesus, we can show our respect for others by doing unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). This is known as the Golden Rule.

Jesus taught that it is God’s will, or law, for us to love our neighbor. In response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told us the parable we call “The Good Samaritan,” as follows:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half-dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he saw him he passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day, he took out two denaii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.

‘Which of these three proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do likewise.’ ” (Luke 10:30-37).

In this parable, the man who was robbed and beaten was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, two cities in Judea. This means that the man was a Jew from Judea. Ironically, the man who showed compassion to the Jew was a Samaritan. This is significant because Samaritans and Jews were generally enemies because of racial and religious differences.

The fact that a Samaritan had compassion on an enemy suggests that we should have compassion for all of our neighbours, even those we consider our enemies. This is supported by Jesus’ teaching, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Regardless of why we consider others to be our enemies, we must always be ready to do good to those who hate us, because all of us live in community with each other. We must always be ready to have compassion on all of our neighbours, even our enemies. All of our neighbours are deserving of our pity and compassion and help when in need.

Jesus taught that it is God’s will or law for people to love each other, and that any failure to love others is disobedience to God’s will or law. So when we refuse to love others, we are sinning, because we are disobeying God’s law. The word “sin” actually means the “failure to love.”

The parable of the good Samaritan is important because it shows us what it means to disobey God’s law about loving others. In the parable, we see two kinds of failure to love our neighbour:

The robbers who attacked the man demonstrated an active failure to love by stripping and beating the man, and causing him to suffer. The priest and the Levite both demonstrated a passive failure to love by being indifferent to the suffering of the man and passing him by without stopping to help. To cause human suffering or to be indifferent to human suffering is a failure to love, disobedience to God, and therefore a sin.

Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan in response to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” The two neighbours in the story were the man who was suffering and needed help, and the good Samaritan. The neighbour we are supposed to learn from in the story is the Samaritan, who had compassion and helped the suffering man. The good Samaritan’s show of love and compassion for the other man shows us how we need to love all of our neighbours, even those who we think are our enemies. The race, religion, social status, color or beliefs of your neighbour do not matter. Also, we can see from this parable and from Jesus’ other teachings that everyone can be judged solely on the way they treat others.

If we follow the word of God and love one another as neighbours and brothers, the world we live in will become more like the Kingdom of Heaven which we all strive to enter. We must try to follow God’s law by obeying his greatest commandment of all: “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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