Loving your neighbor is God’s commandment
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, contains many commandments of God. They have multiple purposes.
The most obvious purpose of God’s laws is to guide people’s behavior. The Lord wants his people to behave in certain ways. A clear example is the “ten commandments”, a kind of constitution about people’s relationship with God and with each other. Whenever people obey these basic rules, society will function far better than when everybody just does as he pleases. God’s constitution is a blessing.
A second function of God’s laws is to help people gain insight in the problem of their sinful hearts. See Romans 3:20 (ESV): “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin”. Whoever tries earnestly to obey God’s commandments, has to acknowledge that he doesn’t manage to live up to God’s standards. He needs to have his heart cleansed from sin — and that is exactly what the Lord is so very willing to do!
When asked what the major commandments are, Jesus mentions two: loving God and loving your neighbor. If you really do that, all the other commandments will be obeyed automatically. After all, it’s impossible to love somebody and murder him, or to love God and misuse His name.
The commandment to love your neighbor, like the other commandments, has this double function to motivate us to ‘do the right thing’, and to make us aware of our inability to love wholeheartedly, so that we may acknowledge our need for the Holy Spirit to cleanse and renew us.
Please take a moment to reflect on your life in light of this commandment. Do you love people around you? Which aspects of your life still need renewal?