Love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:18
It was just a fun game at youth group, but it held a lesson for us: rather than switching neighbors, learn to love the ones you have. Everyone is seated in a large circle, except for one person who stands in the middle of the circle. The standing person asks someone sitting down, “Do you love your neighbor?” The seated person can answer the question in two ways: yes or no. He gets to decide if he would like to swap his neighbor with someone else.
Don’t we wish we could choose our “neighbors” in real life too? Especially when we have a colleague whom we can’t get along with or a next-door neighbor who loves to mow the lawn at odd hours. More often than not, however, we have to learn to live with our difficult neighbors.
When the Israelites moved into the promised land, God gave them important instructions on how to live as people who belonged to Him. They’re told to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), which includes not spreading gossip or rumors, not taking advantage of our neighbors, and confronting people directly if we have something against them (vv. 9–18).
While it’s difficult to love everyone, it’s possible to treat others in loving ways as Jesus works in and through us. God will supply the wisdom and ability to do so as we seek to live out our identity as His people.
Who are the “neighbors” you find hard to get along with? How can you love them better?
Father, please help me to reflect Your love to those around me—even the difficult ones.
For further study, read Healing a Broken Relationship.
Leviticus 19 contains the only Old Testament reference to “love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 18), a fundamental teaching in the Bible. In the New Testament, when an expert in the law asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36), Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And He continued, “The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (vv. 37–40). Paul said the commandments are “summed up in this one command” (Romans 13:9) and are “fulfilled in keeping [it]” (Galatians 5:14). Our love for God is evidenced in our loving treatment of our neighbors.