LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:14
The Lord has a way of greatly simplifying things. He says that “all the law” can be fulfilled by obeying a single command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This sheds tremendous light on the vital importance of relating to others, and how it is possible to fulfill the righteous commands of God toward those we interact with. Much of our human existence has to do with personal relationships; first our relationship with God, and then our relationships with other people.
There are many commands in the Scripture that have to do with our relationship with others. For instance, the Ten Commandments tell us to honor our parents, not to covet what belongs to others, not to murder, not to commit adultery, or steal, or lie. These commands help to govern our relationships with people. We are taught elsewhere in the Scripture to submit to those in authority, to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, to forgive those who wrong us, to treat others as we would want to be treated, to love our enemies, to encourage each other daily, etc. All of these admonitions govern our relationships.
And yet, Jesus teaches us that if we will love our neighbor, we will obey all of these commands. How is that true? It is true because, when we walk in love toward others, we will surely obey these and all other commands like them. If we love someone as we should, we will not want to violate or hurt him. When we love people, we will not think evil of them or want to harm their testimony or reputation. When you think about it, the reason we mistreat people, or break a command of Scripture toward them, is that we do not love them as we ought.
To be able to respond to others as God would have us to, we are going to have to learn to love them. How can we possibly love others in such a way that our attitudes, words, and actions toward them will not break God’s commands? We must allow God’s great love to be expressed through us toward them. God wants to enable us to be channels of His love. As the Holy Spirit fills our lives, He will love people through us as “the fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22). There is no one that God cannot love, and no one that He cannot love through us. To obey God’s commands toward others, we must allow Him to love them through us.