The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but what does this look like in practice? There are numerous verses in the Old and New Testaments that speak to the power of love, and implore human beings to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Jesus tells us in Mark 12 that the two most important commandments are to love God and love others. His proclamation came during a conversation with one of the teachers of the law, who asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
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Here was Christ’s response (Mark 12:29-31, NIV):
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips as well as a list of Bible verses that speak to the importance of loving others:
Love Your Neighbor by Being Relational
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” - James 2:8 (NIV)
Loving others often times requires getting to know them. Be neighborly by saying hello and building a relationship with those around you. Whether this means conversing with neighbors, co-workers or others in and outside your circle, being relational is often a first step.
After all, how can you know of the needs of those around you if you aren’t interacting with them? Also, consider being a listening ear for those who might need one.
READ ALSO: Loving Others in an Era of Cultural Chaos: 3 Biblical Tips
Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself: Always Be a Helping Hand
“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” - Romans 15:2 (NIV)
Pay close attention to those around you. Is anyone in need? Perhaps there’s an elderly neighbor who needs a lawn mowed, or maybe there’s someone who is struggling with getting yard work done. Sometimes, loving your neighbor as you love yourself means going out of your way to show simple acts of kindness and compassion.
When it snows, it might mean shoveling a neighbor’s driveway without being asked. Or, perhaps it’s another simple task. There are many ways to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
When Someone is Struggling, Step Up to the Plate
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” - Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
When an unfortunate problem befalls your neighbor, be the hands and feet of Jesus. Every love your neighbor as yourself Bible verse encourages us to step out and help those around us who might be in need.
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When illness or chaos strikes, consider making a meal for the afflicted. Or, if there are transportation needs, offer to volunteer your services. Not only does it help in a practical sense when people volunteer to take action, but it shows true friendship and encourages the afflicted amid their difficulties and struggles.
Love Your Neighbor By Lifting Him or Her Up in Prayer
Another way to love your neighbor as you love yourself is to lift him or her up in prayer. Perhaps your neighbor is struggling, or maybe you’re hoping he or she finds faith.
Either way, another way to love your neighbor is to add him or her to a prayer list and to seek God on that person’s behalf. Prayer is powerful, and a mixture of action and invoking God can offer some truly powerful help to those around you.
Forgiveness Is Sometimes the Best Way to Love Others
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” - Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)
If a friend, neighbor or co-worker hurts you, always opt for forgiveness. Sometimes the best way to love others is to offer forgiveness if they have harmed you or made a mistake. Forgiveness can be difficult, but with God’s help anything is possible.
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Plus: What better way to show the Lord’s love for humanity than to exhibit the forgiveness he has given all of humanity?
If you’re looking for more scripture on loving others, look no further. We have Bible verse lists on how to better love yourself, how to love others and how to properly care for those around you. We also have some important guidance on how to be loving in a cultural era of chaos.