Mathews 22:35-40, “[35] Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, [36] Master, which is the great commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

The two greatest commandments which Jesus spoke about! It is true that all the teachings of Jesus centre on these two commandments.

While we are pretty much aware of what it means to love the Lord with all your being however, when it comes to loving our neighbour we tend to define it as per our own convenience.

We choose to decide who we will see as our ‘neighbour’ or  what will be the definition of ‘ loving our neighbour’?  For example, we may say that the people who live next door would be our neighbour. We may invite them over for dinner occasionally, may greet them whenever our paths cross, be available in case of any emergency but that’s it. We may not consider the family living two blocks away as our neighbour maybe because they are of a different ethnicity or probably another religion or caste or maybe they are just too far away!

But did Jesus really give us an option to choose our neighbour?

The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-36) responded to this thought in a very clear way.

The man going from Jerusalem to Jericho must have been a Jew. But the Priest and the Levite, all from his city and community ignored him when he needed them most but a Samaritan helped him, someone who had all the rights to ignore as he was not of the same community, nor was regarded as a friend by the Jewish community.

But he chose to help that person. He had to walk the way down since he had put the man on his donkey, he even paid extra money to the inn keeper to tend to his injuries. In all it cost the Samaritan his time, his money and his comfort and he did not even stay back to receive praise. In fact the Bible also does not mention his name nor is there any mention that the Jewish man went back to thank him!

How many of us would do so and not post it on any social media platform!!

 So how do you define who is your neighbour and what all constitutes ‘loving your neighbour as yourself’?

Let’s turn our attention to 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, “[13] If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. [2] If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. [3] If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. [4] Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. [5] It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. [6] Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [7] It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Let’s look at the characteristics of love one by one as mentioned in this text to understand what all entails in it and explore who are our neighbours.

Love is patient & kind: The first quality of love is that it is patient. It is patient even if our neighbour does not reciprocate to it. It is patient even if it does not get a quick resolution but continues till the issue is resolved. It is kind towards everyone, not just towards those from our community but even towards those who are not from our community.

Love does not envy: Love does not envy when someone else buys a car or gets the promotion you wanted for so long. It does not envy when someone comes into limelight while you are still in shadows.

Love does not boast and is not proud: Love does not boast about what you have and what others don’t. This is in stark contrast to what we do on social media. We love posting pictures flaunting our possessions or boasting about where we went for vacation or even what we did for charity! Love does not keep on showing how much we have done for someone but is humble and silent.

Love does not dishonour others & is not self-seeking: Love does not dishonour others,  it respects others despite the diversity which may exist. Not only does it not dishonour others but it is also not self-seeking. All actions done out of love are in the best interest of others and not self.

Love is not easily angered nor keeps record of wrongs: Probably the strongest and the most difficult trait of love is that it is not easily angered and more importantly does not remember any wrong doings done to self. How difficult is this fact but only the truest form of love can exhibit such characteristics.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: Love will not plot evil but is happy when truth is shared.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres: Probably the most beautiful part about love is that it protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres despite all odds.

With all the hatred we see on social media platforms, in our Country and the rest of the countries, it is easy to be swayed by the intoxicating extreme views floating around and keep aloof and not extend a helping hand to those in need.

But if we see ourselves as true Christians then we have to showcase that to the world, by following both the commandments of God in spirit and in truth.

The world today is in dire need to know the love of God and the biblical neighbors and it is upon us to show that love to this world and extend a healing hand to those in need. Remember doing so will cost you your time, money, resources and let alone getting a thanks you may be belittled, ridiculed but what would matter is that you would have followed the second greatest commandment of Jesus, you showed love to your neighbor!

God bless you

Your brother in Christ

Nikunj