We in the church have a tendency to misread and apply the improper use of the second great commandment. As we discussed in Part 1;
“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Jesus repeated this commandment while on earth;
He said, “Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:36-37). So then this is the GREATEST COMMANDMENT. All others are secondary.
But Jesus went on to say “And the second command is like the first: Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself” (Mat 22:39). So we in this discussion we are looking at this second command. How should a child of God follow this command “to love your neighbor as yourself”?.
It Takes Wisdom and Sound Judgment to Love the Neighbor
We cannot love the neighbor so much that we give them all our worldly processions we own to express that love, do we? No, of course not. “I am Wisdom, and I have insight; I have knowledge and sound judgment” (Proverbs 8:12 GNB).
When Looking at your Neighbor Always Look Up!
When we are pondering love to the neighbor, the Christian first looks up and asks themselves a question. Will this love toward the neighbor extend the welfare and progress of the Lord’s kingdom? What I do, will it in the process bring HIM Glory? By doing this we are honoring the GREAT and FIRST COMMANDMENT to “Love the Lord your God”. Everything else is secondary, including the neighbor. In fact, that FIRST COMMANDMENT includes our own families!.
Not Peace, but a Sword That Divides
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; your worst enemies will be the members of your own family. “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it” (Matthew 10:34-39).
This may on the surface appear to be a contradiction. In one instance we are told the second great commandment is to love the neighbor. But in this verse, Jesus firmly established that our primary consideration in our Christian walk is this action to “Love the Lord your God”. Everything else is chopped liver! Forget about it! This is everything. This is all that matters and all that has any lasting value!
In the Bible, there is Actually a Hierarchy of Love to Neighbor
1. Love to The Brethren
“Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself” (Rom 12:10 ERV)
Why is this at the top of the hierarchy? Because we love the brethren because of what is found in each and every one of them. And that is God Himself! And where God is dwelling that where heaven is found! And heaven is our eternal home and our hoped-for destiny.
That is why there are TWO tablets to the Ten Commandments. One is devotion to God. And the second is to why God. Why God created people was for a dwelling place. Other Christians are our fellow sojourners and travelers upon the earth until we reach our destination and the dwelling place of the Most High God!.
“We are only strangers traveling through this world like our ancestors. Our time on earth is like a passing shadow, and we cannot stop it”
(1Chronicles 29:15 ERV)
“All these great people continued living with faith until they died. They did not get the things God promised his people. But they were happy just to see those promises coming far in the future. They accepted the fact that they were like visitors and strangers here on earth” (Hebrews 11:13 ERV)
So we can again see why there are TWO stones in the Ten Commandments. It could be said that one stone is for God to have an eternal dwelling place in us. And the other stone is for us to have an eternal dwelling place in God! God is the highest command given by Jesus, and the neighbor is the second.
2. The Next Level of “The Neighbor” is the “Gentiles”, those that Know Not God.
The Bible is full of instruction and wisdom on dealing with our fellow earth occupants. Anyone who has ever been in a traffic jam can understand people are messy, and sometimes downright dangerous! As J. Vernon McGee used to say, “This is where the rubber meets the road, my friends!”. There are many Scriptures to help us discern the “neighbor”. As we mentioned before we must use discernment and wisdom for each neighbor we encounter. We cannot go blindly accepting people at face value. We live in a world where hell is boiling up, and where heaven is reaching down. That is a very real clash and conflict going on all the time! Samuel Brengle the first American General of the Salvation Army said, “The spiritual battle we are involved in on this earth is as real as the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of Gettysburg!
“The ruler of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They cannot see the light of the Good News—the message about the divine greatness of Christ. Christ is the one who is exactly like God” (2 Corinthians 4:4 ERV)
The forces of hell are constantly trying to reach up, pull down and destroy God. So this Scripture tells us that the unbelieving neighbors (“gentiles”) can become influenced (“blinded the minds”) by the forces of hell to cause carnage and mayhem. They unwittingly become agents of hell. This is why we are told;
“Listen! I am sending you, and you will be like sheep among wolves. So be smart like snakes. But also be like doves and don’t hurt anyone. Be careful! There are people who will arrest you and take you to be judged. They will whip you in their synagogues” (Matthew 10:16-17 ERV).
So the Christian must use wisdom and discernment when dealing with the concept of “love to the neighbor”! We should not be lulled into our “neighbor” going unchecked in the evil nature that we all possess. One example is Adolf Hitler. The German people loved him unconditionally and gave him the power to become very evil. This, in turn, enabled him to hurt and destroy untold multitudes of “neighbors”.
Since God loves all people, to have them hurt and destroyed violates the first GREAT COMMANDMENT to love God. All others commands are secondary!. This is why in order to follow the SECOND command “to love your neighbor” you must always have in view the FIRST GREAT COMMANDMENT.
Amen. May His name be blessed.