How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Self-preservation is in each of us from birth. “If anyone is going to die, let it be the other guy,” carnal nature says. But the Bible says perfect love does no evil to its neighbor (1 Cor. 13:4-7; Rom. 15:2).
God wants us to love each other and be outgoing toward one another to such an extent that we would lay down our lives for another person, Jesus being our example (John 10:15; 15:13; 1 John 3:16). This means we have a way to go, especially when human nature is constantly looking for a reason to dislike the other person.
Practicing love toward our neighbor requires that we aren’t giving in to our evil natures (Gal. 5:13). Instead, practicing love means following the example of the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil to their neighbor (1 Thess 5:15). This, indeed, pleases God and is how He begins to crush our satanic nature (Rom. 16:20).
Loving our neighbor as ourself is putting the other person’s welfare, comfort and well-being ahead of our own (Phil. 2:3-4; Matt. 19:19). For example, if we are to be servants of the most, we must get used to eating last, after the guests are fed, like true maids and butlers of God (Matt. 19:30; 20:16). Maybe we won’t be the best, but that does not excuse us from trying our best. Remember, God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 17:10). That is why the widow who gave a penny was serving more than the rich who gave of their abundance (Luke 21:3-4). The rich are being called to be rich in good works so they can keep their minds off their money and the love of it, and more on God by serving others (1 Tim. 6:10, 17-19).
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, and those who do His commandments have a good understanding (Psalm 111:10). Fear is respect, adoration, obedience and being in subjection to someone (Prov. 15:33; 16:6). When a disciple of Jesus Christ begins to obey God by glorifying Him daily through good works, showing that his faith has works, he naturally does it from fear of being punished (1 Peter 1:17; 2 Cor. 7:1). The same is true of our attitude toward our earthly fathers if we do not do what they tell us to do (Heb. 12:10-11).
Eventually, that attitude of fear changes to one of respect, adoration and love, when we are at last in loving subjection to God, our heavenly Father. This perfect love for God comes by way of serving others and putting them first before self, and by continually pleasing God every day (Phil. 2:3-5). Then there is no more fear of anything, not even death itself. Faith has indeed been perfected by works of love for God’s glory (James 2:22; 1 John 4:18).
Remember, this truth, for the most part, is not known in the world. The proof is in the observation of the fruits (works) of those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ today (Col. 1:10; Matt. 7:16-18, 20; Titus 1:16). We are alone, but we have each other; and we know we are God’s friends because we keep His commandments (John 15:14).