HOW YOU CAN LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
By Rev. Ted Pike
28 Oct 13
Editor's Note: This is an edited version of the recorded Bible study under this title at Truthtellers.org.
God commands that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said this is the second most important commandment, behind loving God with all that is in us. For many, it is quickly glossed over. But it’s a command which God intends to be fulfilled. Jesus illustrated this law with His parable of a Samaritan man’s response to a poor traveler beaten by robbers and left to die. Jesus said a Jewish priest and later a Levite saw the victim but considered him unclean and avoided him. Then a Samaritan, whom the Jews despised for racial reasons, approached him, gave him medical care, took him to an inn and paid for his care. The next day he gave money to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him and whatsoever thou spendest more when I come again, I will repay" (Luke 10:33-35).
The Samaritan treated this victimized stranger the way he would’ve wished to be treated if he had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. Jesus also stated the second commandment this way: “Do unto others as you would wish they would do unto you.” The Samaritan acted not out of personal affection but out of the universal love for all men which comes to us from a God who is love. Mere affection is an emotion; there is a limit to the affection we can feel for a world in aching need, a world of “neighbors” who may or may not be appealing to us. But there should be no restraint on our willingness to help others when it is in our power.
Many voices cry to us, “Be our good Samaritan! Give to our organization or cause to bring salvation, food or medical help to the needy!” Each of us has limited resources. How do we respond?
If we truly have a heart in which the love of Jesus dwells, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to awaken us to the needs of others to whom He wants us to minister. We may, like the Samaritan, stumble across human need in our path so obvious that we must make an immediate moral decision. Or God may burden us to seek how to help others financially or in some other way. In both, we love our neighbor as ourselves by responding to human need as the Lord leads and responding in a way we would appreciate if we were the victim.
The two essentials of fulfilling the second greatest commandment are thus a softness of heart that is willing to respond to human need and the ability to hear God’s voice of encouragement or restraint within the multitude of voices begging for assistance. For the Samaritan, the choice was thrust on him.
To a large extent, all of us experience human needs close at hand which require a decision. In urban centers, beggars frequently accost us, pulling our heartstrings with claims of desperate need for food or shelter. In reality, many want money for drugs or alcohol.
I experienced this recently in a public park. A derelict a man with a sack half full of soda cans was rifling through the dumpster. I gave him the last two dollars in my wallet and a ride to the supermarket two miles away to cash in his booty. On the way, he wanted to tell me of his favorite liquors. He said he roams the county on foot constantly in search of soda cans to support his alcoholism. Afterward, I wondered, “Was I really a good Samaritan, or was I just financing and enabling his next drink?”
Loving our neighbors requires wisdom, not a formula for action born of uninformed idealism. Christ requires a heart that aspires to be like God, Who showers love on both the thankful and unthankful but also is full of wisdom. God loves the entire world, as John 3:16 says. But He also reserves the right to hate many of its worst sinners, as Psalm 5:5 says of the Lord, "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity" and Psalm 11:5, "Him that loveth violence His soul hateth.”
The Christian is to be nobody’s fool. At the same time, as 1 Corinthians 13 encourages, we are to "believe all things" the Holy Spirit may lead us to believe as part of showing mercy. This may seem foolish to a skeptical world, but isn’t it better to be too kind and generous even to the unworthy than hard of heart toward even one worthy person?
The Good Samaritan fulfilled the second greatest commandment by being compassionate and willing to expend some unrepaid time and money on a wounded stranger. There is an even higher and more truly self-denying love. It is the prophetic intercessory requirement to love humanity more than ourselves, being willing to endure not only shame and rejection, but imprisonment, torture and even loss of our own lives in order that others be saved. Christ patterned this; He did not value His exalted status in heaven as Creator and infinite God but descended to the lowliest place, crucifixion as a criminal, so we could live.
The Hebrew prophets, including John the Baptist, knew they were required to love others more than themselves, even to death. We especially see such heroic altruism acted out in the apostle Paul’s willingness to be imprisoned and even die to bring the gospel one more time to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem. Paul walked forward into the jaws of imprisonment in hope of salvation of the very Jews he knew wanted to kill him. He fulfilled Christ’s command to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.
Teaching Hate of One's Neighbor
Let’s now discuss movements that actually do the opposite of obeying God’s decree that we love our neighbors as ourselves; they teach it is good and necessary to despise our enemies. Transformed into a religious or political ideal, denigration of others has been popular throughout history and even viewed as a great good. Today we see large groups of people driven by religious, political or racial ideas that attempt to destroy the humanity, even perhaps the existence, of their neighbors.
The first is Talmudic Judaism. All three of the world’s great religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—aspire to world control. Christianity preaches that the Gospel spiritually works toward that objective. But Christians also believe Jesus will someday return and rule the nations with a rod of iron. Islam believes that through missionary zeal, Sharia law and reproductive numbers, all mankind will come to believe that there is one God and Mohammed is His prophet. Yet Talmudic, cabbalistic Judaism covertly teaches that only through the subversion of Christian civilization via supremacist media, political and financial revolutionary control can Judaism, along with its false Messiah, achieve its predestined role of rulership over the nations. As part of this agenda, Israel has persuaded most evangelical Christians that there is no conspiracy within Judaism and that the great threat to mankind is Islam and Arab terrorism. (See Why We Should Fear Zionism More than Islam )
Most evangelicals dehumanize Arabs to a degree that is similar to Judaism’s dehumanization of Gentiles. The end result is that neither group has any love for vast numbers of human beings made in God’s image. Instead, for religious reasons, they are taught to believe Arabs are virtually or actually subhuman.
In response to Talmudic Judaism’s pervasive attack on civilization, white evolutionary racism goes to a similar extreme. Over the past century, white racist and eugenics movements in America and Europe have argued that, over the eons or even in centuries in the ghettos of Eastern Europe, evolution selected the very worst Jewish genes and expelled the best from the Jewish community. The result was creation of a race of political revolutionary “killer bees” who are not fully human. Instead, they are soulless and programmed only to destroy. As a result, much as Talmudic Judaism dehumanizes Gentiles, evolutionary racism destroys any need for friendship, compassion or evangelism of Jews. (See Duke and MacDonald's "Bad Jewish Genes" Theory)
Scripture prophesies that, especially in the last days before Christ’s second coming, “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). Like the priests passing by on the road, people will increasingly harden themselves against the needs and even the humanity of their fellow man. They will think only of themselves and personal safety or pleasure, even when there is no risk or significant loss in helping others.
The media reported a New York cab driver’s story of receiving a 50-cent tip from Donald Trump. Asked if he couldn’t give more, Trump reportedly responded, “No. I didn’t get where I am by giving my money away.”
The coldness of the last days is revealed everywhere in an unwillingness to extend love and a helping, encouraging hand to human beings in need when it is well within our power. The signs of this "arctic chill" covering the earth are everywhere. The gap between the very richest and the poorest, even in America, is reportedly ever widening. Our science stubbornly refuses to concede any possibility that we exist as designed beings by a concerned and intelligent, loving God. Young people are given no hope of any purpose higher than pleasure in the here and now. As an artist, I am keenly aware of how postmodern “high art” is also determined to become even more devoid of any duty to provide consolation.
Our only hope to reverse such coldness and again bring warmth into human hearts is Jesus. As His disciples, we must boldly dare to love all mankind. As the Lord directs, our hearts of love must propel us toward works of altruism. Since most of the world’s problems are a result of moral rebellion and confusion, leaving mankind torn and bleeding on the supposed road to happiness and enlightenment, the efforts of the modern Good Samaritan must primarily be conceptual. We must make straight the ways of the Lord through verbal and educational enlightenment of a humanity that has lost its way. This means witnessing for Jesus and bearing witness to the whole truth, spiritually, politically, socially and in whatever area, including the fine arts, the truth and reality are being denied. (Listen to our Bible study: "Christians Should Reclaim the Fine Arts")
To conclude, it’s clear today how far we can depart from truth and from normal human compassion if we ignore or reject the second commandment. Scripture says Jesus looked at the crowds and had compassion on them, for they were as sheep without a shepherd. Do we look on the population of Jews, Arabs, blacks or any other group of people, perhaps our fellow students or employees, with the same kind of compassion Jesus had?
Jesus saw a crowd knowing their praises would turn to screams of “Crucify Him!” and still had compassion on them. He knew that in every group of people of every race and religion exist those He has foreknown would choose to humble themselves and come toward God. Thus, because of the hope of the decisions of the few, He loves the whole world despite the rebellion of the majority. I also take comfort in the same hope: that some will choose correctly and be transformed by God’s grace. I will never become cynical about human potential. I will always, in hope of his decisions, love man and call him to his Creator.