Neighbor Love Not Enough
TOWARD the latter part of January, 1955, two British women engaged in a debate over the radio network of the British Broadcasting Corporation. One woman was an atheistic psychologist who advocated humanism and who had been giving talks over the radio on the program entitled “Morals Without Religion.” The other woman was the wife of a clergyman who had been a missionary to India.
The gist of the atheist’s argument was that it is better to teach children neighbor love without bringing God into the picture. The clergyman’s wife argued that neighbor love that leaves God out of the picture becomes very self-righteous. But is that the best argument that can be brought to bear to show that neighbor love by itself, or in itself, is not enough?
Not that neighbor love in itself is not a good thing. It is. In fact, more and more it is becoming a prominent feature in psychosomatic medicine as both physicians of the body and of the mind prescribe it for mental and physical and also moral ills. Said one psychologist: “I think that the best thing parents can do is to teach their children how to love.” And as to what it means to love another, he said: “A mature, healthy personality, with a strong ability to love does not ‘love’ just his wife or a few special friends. He loves—period.” And said one-time general director of the World Health Organization of the United Nations: “Our global future depends upon the number of mature people we can produce, people capable of love, capable of approaching the problems of our changing times as ‘love people,’ not ‘hate people.’”
While neighbor love that leaves God out of the picture may foster a spirit of self-righteousness, it cannot be denied that it does do some good, as far as it goes. But that is just it, it does not go far enough. To show neighbor love without taking God into the picture is to be “penny wise and pound foolish,” is to “strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!”—Matt. 23:24, NW.
In fact, neighbor love without proper knowledge may do more harm than good. Some like to show love to a sick neighbor by prescribing remedies for him, but unless they know all the facts their advice may do more harm than good. Such call to mind the Britons who by the thousands sent medicines and prescriptions to their king when he was very ill.
The existence of the universe as well as of man argues the existence of the Creator. Since there is an intelligent Creator he must have created the earth for some purpose. It follows, therefore, that it would be the height of folly for us to proceed to direct our affairs or seek to help a neighbor direct his without taking into consideration just what is the purpose of his existence and ours. The Creator gave the lower animals an infallible guide in instincts and has also supplied all our material needs. Is it not reasonable to expect that he would also supply our spiritual needs, give us also an infallible guide, informing us as to what is right and what is wrong, why we are here, what our destiny is to be? The results of taking the Bible as the infallible guide provided by the Creator for man prove that that is indeed its purpose. It shows, among other things, the inadequacy of neighbor love by itself.
For example, Eve, in offering Adam of the forbidden fruit, doubtless felt that she was showing neighbor love, since she believed the serpent’s lie that it would make her as wise as God and that she would not die. But leaving God out of the picture, her neighbor love brought about Adam’s destruction. And as noted at Proverbs 1:10-14, the wicked may seek to entice another to join them in their schemes for speedy dishonest gain, but of what good is such a gesture of generosity when based on a lawless premise?
When Jesus told his disciples what lay ahead of him, “that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the older men of influence and chief priests and scribes and be killed . . . Peter took him aside and commenced raising strong objections to him, saying: ‘Be kind to yourself, Master; you will not have this destiny at all.’ But, turning his back, he said to Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumblingblock to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.’”—Matt. 16:21-23, NW.
Yes, no question about Peter’s loving his Master and endeavoring to show neighbor love, but when he ignored Jehovah’s will Peter became an instrument of the Devil, in spite of all his good intentions. Many psychologists today are likewise instruments of the Devil and for the same reason. Some even go so far as to say that all of mankind’s troubles can be laid to the conscience, the moral sense, and that it is the duty of psychologists to wipe out man’s bondage to the moral sense, that all that matters is mental and physical health, and they point to the lower animals for proof of their position. Certainly such expressions of neighbor love prove that it, by itself, is not enough.
And not only is neighbor love not enough when it ignores God’s righteous principles, but it is also lacking if it ignores God’s purposes and his time clock, for he has “a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” That time clock shows, according to such prophecies as found at Matthew 24, that we are living at the end of this old system of things, in days comparable to those in which Noah and Lot lived.—Eccl. 3:1, RS.
How shortsighted it would have been for Noah to ignore God’s instructions and seek to help relieve oppression in his day by some scheme of his own! Or for Lot to have tried to reform Sodom and Gomorrah after the angels had told him to flee! So today, the only kind of neighbor love that counts is that which is based on God’s thoughts and not man’s thoughts. That kind of neighbor love will tell the people, “Seek ye Jehovah, . . . seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be you will be hid in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3, AS.
So keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.—Eph. 5:15-17, NW.