February 28, 2024

“Love your neighbor as yourself…”  

Mark 12:31

In commanding us to love our neighbor, Jesus charges us to love anyone we encounter on the road of life, no matter their age, race, appearance, religion, socio-economic level, nationality, political views, ideological differences, etc. 

To this, I say an enthusiastic “Amen!” 

Yet, as I try to live out this second-greatest commandment, I often find it easier said than done. Why?

Because my “neighbors” are real people with real flaws that can really get on my nerves. And frankly, some “neighbors” are just harder to love than others.

I’ve come to realize that it’s often my little irritations with people that present the biggest challenge to loving them. Minor frustrations with their personality quirks, annoying habits, or immature behavior can hinder everyday interactions. And as it turns out, I’m tempted to use my neighbor’s shortcomings as an excuse not to love them. (How about you?) 

But in the Christian walk, there’s never an excuse not to love. 

Notice that Jesus tells us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” 

Loving my neighbor well requires humility and self-awareness.  You see,  just like my neighbors, I can be annoying and immature, too.  And Lord knows, I certainly have my share of weaknesses.

Remember the phrase, “Be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet?”  There’s no doubt that God isn’t finished with me.  I’m still a ‘work in progress.’  I have miles to go on the journey of becoming more like Jesus.  Here’s the thing- if I want others to treat me with patience while I grow into the man the Lord has called me to be, shouldn’t I demonstrate patience and love while my neighbor grows into the person the Lord has called them to be? 

Think of the way Jesus loved His disciples. 

One night, after washing the feet of these twelve ordinary men, Jesus said, “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).  

At this point in the story, the disciples were not shining examples of spiritual maturity. No, they were rough around the edges, in constant need of guidance and correction. Nevertheless, Jesus loved them as they were. And ultimately, He laid down His life for them on the cross.

He wants us to love our neighbors the same way. 

John Piper expounds on what this looks like in daily life, “It seems to demand that I tear the skin off my body and wrap it around another person so that I feel that I am that other person; and all the longings that I have for my own safety and health and success and happiness, I now feel for that other person as though he were me. If this is what it means, then something unbelievably powerful…will have to happen in our souls. Something supernatural.” 

Today, will you be brave enough to ask the Lord to do something supernatural in and through you?

Ask Him to fill you with His love so much that it spills over onto everyone you come in contact with…including those you have deemed “Most Challenging To Love.”

Remember, “Love your neighbor” isn’t a suggestion; it’s a commandment. We’re not exempt from the responsibility to love just because it’s hard.  

May the Lord empower us to love our flawed, annoying, and immature neighbors with the love of Jesus.

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH


Read “Being a Neighbor” by George Wright