“The second [commandment] is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’”—MATTHEW 22:39.
1, 2. (a) What did Jesus say is the second greatest commandment? (b) What questions will we answer?
WHEN a Pharisee asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the Law is, Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” We discussed what this means in the previous article. Jesus also stated what the second greatest commandment is. He said: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Matthew 22:34-39.
2 Jesus said that we must love our neighbor. But who is our neighbor? How can we do what Jesus said? In this article, we will answer those questions and will see how loving our neighbor pleases Jehovah and benefits everyone.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR?
3, 4. (a) What illustration did Jesus use to show what it means to love our neighbor? (b) How did the Samaritan help the man who had been robbed, beaten, and left on the road to die? (See opening picture.)
3 We usually think of a neighbor as someone who lives near to us. (Proverbs 27:10) But when a man asked Jesus: “Who really is my neighbor?” he answered him using the illustration of the Samaritan and explained what it means to love others. (Read Luke 10:29-37.) A Jewish man had been robbed, beaten, and left on the road to die. An Israelite priest and a Levite, who were supposed to be good neighbors, saw him but did not help him. Instead, a Samaritan helped him. At that time, most Jews and Samaritans hated one another.—John 4:9.
4 The Samaritan poured oil and wine on the injured man’s wounds to help the wounds heal. Then he took him to an inn and gave the innkeeper two denarii. This was equal to the pay that a person would receive for two days of work. (Matthew 20:2) When we think of how much that Samaritan did to help the injured man, we know that he had real love for his neighbor. We can be like that Samaritan if we have compassion and love for people.
5. How did Jehovah’s Witnesses show love for their neighbor after Hurricane Sandy?
5 We live in “the last days” when most people do not have compassion. Many are cruel, love violence, and have no love for their neighbor. (2 Timothy 3:1-3) For example, in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy badly damaged an area of New York City. Many people did not have electricity, heat, or the things they needed. Sadly, looters stole from those who were already suffering. Jehovah’s Witnesses were different. They organized help for their brothers and for others in the area because true Christians love their neighbor. What are some other ways to show love for our neighbor?
WAYS TO SHOW LOVE FOR OUR NEIGHBOR
6. What help from the Bible can we offer to our neighbor?
6 Offer help from the Bible. In our preaching work, we give our neighbor “comfort from the Scriptures.” (Romans 15:4) We show love for him when we use the Bible to tell him about the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) It is an honor to bring this message of hope from Jehovah God to our neighbor.—Romans 15:13
7. What is the Golden Rule, and what will happen when we follow it?
7 Follow the Golden Rule. Jesus told us what the Golden Rule is when he said: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them. This, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.” (Matthew 7:12) “The Law” refers to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy, and “the Prophets” refer to the prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Jehovah gave “the Law” and “the Prophets” to his people because he loved them and wanted them to love one another. Today, too, Jehovah expects us to love our neighbor. In the book of Isaiah, Jehovah says: “Uphold justice, and do what is righteous . . . Happy is the man who does this.” (Isaiah 56:1, 2) If we show love for our neighbor and follow the Golden Rule, we will be happy.
Showing love for our enemies may change the way they feel about us
8. Why should we love our enemies, and what may happen if we do?
8 Love your enemies. Jehovah has always taught us to love our enemies. In Jesus’ time, some taught that people should hate their enemies. But Jesus counseled: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-45) Paul gave similar counsel when he said: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” (Romans 12:20; Proverbs 25:21) In ancient Israel, Jehovah gave his people laws instructing them to help their enemies and even their enemies’ animals. (Exodus 23:5) By applying that counsel, some people who once hated one another might have become good friends. As Christians, showing love for our enemies may change the way they feel about us. Some of them may even become servants of Jehovah.
9. What did Jesus say about making peace with our brother?
9 “Pursue peace with all people.” (Hebrews 12:14) If we must make peace with all people, of course we must make peace with our brothers. Jesus said: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away. First make your peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24) Whenever we have a problem with one of our brothers, we can show love for him by trying to make peace as soon as we can. When we quickly make peace, it will be very pleasing to Jehovah.
10. Why should we not judge others?
10 Do not judge others. “Stop judging that you may not be judged.” Jesus taught us not to judge others for the mistakes that they make. He also said: “Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye but do not notice the rafter in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Allow me to remove the straw from your eye,’ when look! a rafter is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the straw from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5) The lesson is that we should not criticize other people when they make mistakes because we make many mistakes ourselves.
THE BEST WAY TO SHOW LOVE
11, 12. What is an important way to show love for our neighbor?
11 There are many ways to show love for our neighbor. But Jesus taught us that the best way to do so is to preach the good news of the Kingdom. (Luke 8:1) He told his followers: “Make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) When we obey Jesus, we can help our neighbor to leave the spacious road that leads to destruction and show him how to walk on the cramped road leading off into life. (Matthew 7:13, 14) We know that our efforts are very pleasing to Jehovah.
12 Jesus helped many people to understand that they needed Jehovah. (Matthew 5:3) We imitate Jesus when we tell people about “God’s good news.” (Romans 1:1) We teach them that Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for them to have Jehovah’s approval and friendship. (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) Preaching the good news is truly an important way to show love for our neighbor.
We show love for people when we prepare well for return visits and Bible studies
13. How do you feel when you teach people about Jehovah?
13 When we prepare well for our return visits and Bible studies, we are able to teach people to obey Jehovah. Some may need to make many changes in their lives. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) It makes us so happy to see how Jehovah helps humble ones to make progress and become his friends. (Acts 13:48) When they study the Bible, people who had no hope become happy. Their anxiety is replaced by confidence in Jehovah. It is an honor to show love for our neighbor through this special work.
PAUL’S DESCRIPTION OF LOVE
14. How did Paul describe love at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8?
14 If we love our neighbor in the way that Paul described, we will please Jehovah, have fewer problems, and be happy. What Paul wrote at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 will teach us other ways to love our neighbor as ourselves.—Read.
15. (a) Why should we be patient and kind? (b) Why should we not be jealous or proud?
15 “Love is patient and kind.” Jehovah is patient and kind toward all people even though they are imperfect. So we need to be patient and kind when others make mistakes, even if they are unkind or rude to us. The Bible says that “love is not jealous.” Some of our brothers may have privileges in the congregation or other things that we do not have. But if we truly love our brothers, we will not be jealous of them. Also, we should not be proud or boast about ourselves. The Bible tells us that Jehovah hates those who have “haughty eyes and an arrogant heart.”—Proverbs 21:4.
16, 17. What ways to show love for our neighbor are described at 1 Corinthians 13:5, 6?
16 Love “does not behave indecently.” If we show love for our neighbor, we will not lie to him or steal from him or do anything else that makes Jehovah unhappy. Also, we will not be selfish, because love “does not look for its own interests.” So we will always do what is best for our neighbor.—Philippians 2:4.
We should not keep a record of all the times that a person hurts us
17 Love “does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury.” If someone does something unkind to us, we do not quickly become angry. We should not keep a record of all the times that a person hurts us. (1 Thessalonians 5:15) If we hold a grudge, our anger could burn like a fire, hurting ourselves and others. (Leviticus 19:18) Instead, we should forgive and forget. Love “does not rejoice over unrighteousness.” If a person who hates us is treated unfairly, we are not happy to see him suffer.—Read Proverbs 24:17, 18.
18. What do we learn about love from 1 Corinthians 13:7, 8?
18 Paul wrote that love “bears all things.” When we love our neighbor, we will forgive him when he does something that upsets us. Paul also said that love “believes all things.” We believe what we read in the Bible and are thankful to be taught by Jehovah’s organization. Love “hopes all things.” We have hope because we trust in all the things that Jehovah has promised us. And because we love people, we will do our best to tell them about our hope. (1 Peter 3:15) When we face very difficult situations, we pray and hope for the best results. Even if somebody sins against us or persecutes us, we endure. As Paul said, love “endures all things.” He also said: “Love never fails.” Those who are obedient to Jehovah will show love to their neighbor forever.
KEEP ON LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
19, 20. What scriptures teach us that we must keep on showing love to our neighbor?
19 If we follow the Bible’s counsel, we will always love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) Jehovah and Jesus expect us to do this. We must love all people, no matter where they come from or what their culture is. Whenever it is difficult to show love for our neighbor, we can pray to Jehovah and ask for his holy spirit. We know this will please Jehovah, and he will help us.—Romans 8:26, 27.
We should love all people, no matter where they come from or what their culture is
20 The command to love our neighbor is so important that it is called “the royal law.” (James 2:8) In the Mosaic Law, Jehovah gave his people many commandments that taught them to love their neighbor. Later, Jehovah inspired Paul to write: “Whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this saying: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’”—Romans 13:8-10.
21, 22. Why should we love God and our neighbor?
21 Jesus helped us to understand more about who our neighbor is when he said that his Father “makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good and makes it rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45) Jesus was teaching us that we should show love to all people, whether they are righteous or unrighteous. As mentioned earlier, an important way to show love for our neighbor is to teach him about Jehovah and his Kingdom. If our neighbor applies what he learns from the Bible, he can have the great joy of becoming God’s friend.
22 We have already learned why we should love Jehovah with our whole heart, soul, and mind. We have also learned how we can show love for our neighbor. If we love Jehovah and our neighbor, we are obeying the two greatest commandments. Best of all, we please our loving heavenly Father, Jehovah.