Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 19, 1954
NUMBER 15, PAGE 13-14

Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

This third article on the general theme of love will be concerned with love of man for man. We have studied the subject "God is Love" and "Thou shalt love the Lon thy God" and now we will study the subject, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." To refresh the reader's memory, I give again Luke 10:27-29. "And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and wilt all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live But he, desiring to justify himself said unto Jesus, and who is my neighbor?"

The law of love for neighbor is kin to the jaw of love for God. In Matthew 22:39 Christ referred to the law of loving our neighbor as a second like unto the law, Thor shalt love the Lord thy God. The two cannot be divorced Love for God does not exist where there is no love for man who is made in God's image. This is clearly stated in 1 John 4:20, 21 "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God loves his brother also." This is also taught in 1 John 5:2, 3 "Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments." These passages clearly establish the kinship of the two, love for God and love for man. The two are divinely linked and cannot exist alone. Like the Siamese twin, the death of one is fatal to the other. The life and health of each depends upon keeping God's commandments.

Here we note a few of the many passages that impose the responsibility upon us by loving our fellowman. Colossians 3:14 "And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness." 1 Corinthians 16:14 "Let al that ye do be done in love." John 13:34, 35 "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; ever as I have loved you, that ye love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Ephesians 5:1, 2 "Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell." Romans 13:8-10 "Owe no man anything save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For this thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet and if there be any other commandment it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbors; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law." These passages should suffice to impress us with the essential place love occupies in the Christian life. Love is the badge of the disciples of the Lord. "By this shall all men knows that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' All our behavior should be motivated and guided by love, "Let all that ye do be done in love." As beloved children we are to imitate God, this we are not doing if we fail to walk in love. Love is the fulfillment of the law with reference to our relationship to our fellow man because "love worketh no ill."

Love finds its full expression not words but in deeds. Verbal protests are inadequate for the expression of genuine love. 1 John 3:16 "Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us." How do we know God's love? By the sacrifice of Christ ... Christ is the demonstration of divine love . . . His love was demonstrated or expressed in action ... "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son" . . . This clearly shows how God's love was demonstrated. Our knowledge of God's love is not dependent upon assertion but demonstration. Just so love in man is a way of living, a course of action. It cannot exhaust itself in verbal protest or assurance. It cannot be defined or limited to emotion or feelings. "But whoso hath the world's goods and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue: but in deed and truth." (1 John 3:17.) One of the factors by which the absence of love is determined is here laid down by the apostle. The one who shuts up his compassion and withholds aid to the needy is destitute of love. The love of God does not abide in that one who fails to act in harmony with the urging of compassion. This is no prohibition against expressing by word our love, appreciation and encouragement. The prohibition is against talk without action ... words without deeds.

Take another look at 1 John 5:2 "Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments." Does it strike you as strange that obedience to God's commandments are put as a test of your love for man? Well, not if you have grasped the close kinship between the requirements of love for God and of love for man. By what does John say we can know that we love the children of God? When we love God and do his commandments. Keeping commandments is obedience, it is human effort, it is doing. This just goes to emphasize more fully that love is a manner of life, a course of action. You may ask how can loving the children of God consist in loving God and keeping His commandments? This is the way it is. God's commandments fall into two groups. First, there are those commandments that regulate our attitude and conduct toward God. Then there are the commandments that govern our attitudes and treatment of our fellowman. You can readily see that if you keep God's commandments you will be thinking and acting properly not only in your relation to God but to man as well.

These passages that we have examined establish that love is not mere feelings and that it does not find its full expression in words. It is a manner of life molded by the will of God. We have seen that compassion expressed in loving service is a necessary thing, that benevolence is a requirement of love. We have learned that a test of love is keeping God's commandments. No one can truthfully claim he loves his fellowman when he is failing to keep God's commandments.

Now we will return to our text which we read at the beginning. The lawyer tried to justify himself by raising the question, Who is my neighbor? An examination of the account of the good Samaritan reveals what love for our neighbor is not and what it is. The lawyer was questioning Jesus on this point. He had said correctly that one must love God and that he must love his neighbor. Seeking to justify himself the lawyer asked Jesus to define a neighbor. Remember that the requirements include not only loving God with all the faculties of ones being but ones' neighbor as oneself. In answering this question Christ tells the story of the man on the Jericho road who fell among robbers. He presents several courses of action and required the lawyer to tell him which course of action belonged to the one who was the neighbor. Which of these three proved neighbor? The Samaritan proved himself a neighbor. How did he prove himself a neighbor? By his merciful acts! He did something!

These happenings on the Jericho road reveal that love is not leaving the other fellow alone. So often the wail goes out to preach the gospel in love and let everybody alone. The priest and Levite are good examples of the "letting alone" type. They left the poor wretched victim alone in his misery. They were not concerned about his condition. He could just suffer and die for all they cared. They left him alone but they are not the examples of love. How any Christian can talk of letting people alone in the clutches of error, to ultimately die in their error and be eternally lost, and speak of love in the same breath is strange indeed. It is to manifest a false idea of love. Love just won't let the victims of error alone.

Love is not abusive or harmful. The robbers were interested in the poor man's money. They wounded and robbed him and left him nearly dead. Advocates of error are vigorous in their measures and efforts to ensnare people in their error. They use every device they can seize upon to attract more people into their folds. They use the most insidious propaganda to deceive and ensnare into religious error. The most attractive advertising is employed by others to get more people to drink their brand. Any voice of opposition is beaten down. Neither the advocates of religious error and oppression nor the agents of moral destruction are going to leave men alone. Neither can a Christian leave men alone if they have the love they should. We can safely conclude that love is not indifferent nor is it harmful.

The Samaritan is the one who proved himself a neighbor. He personified love. He corrected and set aright to the extent of his ability. Love cared and provided for the need of the poor man. Love protected, bandaged, comforted and provided. And that is the inspired example — the demonstration of the principle of "loving neighbor as self."