Is our neighbor more than the guy next door? Could he or she be someone in our community or almost anyone we meet? Could our enemies also be our neighbors? Jesus says that it’s so. But how can we love someone who acts hatefully toward us?
In Matthew 22:36-39, a lawyer challenges Jesus asking him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
Jesus answers him saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (ESV).
How to love thy neighbor?
Finding the good, on purpose is how we train ourselves to “love thy neighbor“. When we hate, we fail to laugh, and we may get a bit obsessive. No matter how nebulous the definition of the emotion, humans can say that they hate each other. Make a cognizant decision to turn your mind to liking other people. Knowing what being supported feels like and how to support others close to you can help to make it easier to love and bond with others less close to you. Greet people with an upbeat persona. A strong hello or a smile makes a huge difference in a person’s day. And everyone wants that sense of recognition that comes through in your positive greetings.
Notice that loving our neighbor would include sharing with the poor and the alien; compassion and absolute honesty and justice in our relationships with others; impartiality; a refusal to be a party to gossip or slander; an absence of malice toward anyone and a refusal to bear a grudge; taking care never to put another life at risk and never taking private vengeance upon another. It is also interesting to note that when we have an issue with anyone, we should strive to make it right by going to him or her directly. James calls this the “royal law” (James 2:8). Our Lord taught that we should do to others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12).