Exploring the Biblical meaning of 'Loving Our Neighbors’

Key Ideas

These pages began as a study of what the Bible meant by "Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself."

It soon became clear that the Word meant "love and help your neighbors (James 2:8)." It was a love of action, not just of feeling. It that shared the Gospel with people, but also picked up those life had knocked down. It proved God’s love was real by helping people through hard times It permeated the early Christian church, yet had its roots before the time of Moses.


Is God’s love limited to our spiritual needs?

The Bible clearly, repeatedly teaches that His love for us reaches into all areas of our lives. Love for our neighbors touches both their spiritual and material needs. Helping with material needs proves to our "neighbors" that we also love them spiritually. Neglecting them proves we do not.


How important is a "love and help" ministry?

Jesus said that the command to love and help our neighbors is "like unto" the command to love God with all our hearts. We can’t truly love God without also loving and helping our neighbors – nor, I believe, fully love our neighbors without also loving God.


Who are our "neighbors?"

Not just those who live near us, but everyone, anywhere, who is in need. Jesus said he will judge our love for him by how we help "the least of these my brothers." From the beginning to the end of the Bible, our "neighbors" are portrayed as our church’s, community’s, nation’s, and the world’s needy.


Why are our "neighbors" in need?

For many years I assumed the needy were lazy, on drugs, or alcoholics. But throughout the Bible God consistently looks on most of them as honest, hard-working people made poor by events they couldn’t control or by the dishonesty or greed of the rich. My family’s own experiences in the six years following my defense layoff showed us the same thing. The many people we met who’d been suddenly, unexpectedly thrust into poverty were the same hard working, honest people the Bible described.


What’s the Biblical balance between work and help?

When God gave the Israelites manna, everyone who could gather did do so each morning. Then those who’d gathered shared with those who couldn’t do it, or couldn’t find enough.

When the Israelites followed this rule, there was enough for everyone. When they didn’t, there was not.


What’s God’s standard for how much we should help the needy?

Long-term, a third of everyone’s tithes were used to help the needy, like immigrants, orphans and widows. That was the only commandment in the Law that God required the Israelites to certify they’d done.

The early church clearly went beyond that standard. There are good reasons to believe that God still expects us to give that much today.


What if we don’t help our neighbors?

Few sins make God as angry with a nation as neglecting its "neighbors." God repeatedly calls those who don’t help the poor "evil." He curses them. Ezekiel 16: 48-50 states that God didn’t destroy Sodom for homosexuality, but because it let its poor and needy suffer! Isaiah and Amos agree. And six Old Testament prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Micah and Zechariah) say that Israel’s treatment of its poor was a major reason God sent that nation into captivity.


How can we know who needs help and how we should give it?

Here are three simple, basic principles.

Know the Word, including the many passages that talk about loving and helping our neighbors.

Know your neighbors. Meet the real people around you. Talk with them. Listen. Never assume people are the way political parties or the media says they are. Be a shepherd. See the real problems each of your real sheep are or are not really having. Match real solutions to real problems.

Live BOTH commandments. Love God and others – through action.. Let your love and help for your neighbors prove that your love for God is real.











































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