The Commands of Jesus—Part 2: How to Love Our Neighbor

Continuing our examination into the “authoritative orders”—or imperatives/teachings—we look at scriptures that teach us how to love our neighbor. You can review the scriptures on How to Love God in Part 1.

Remember, Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets “hang on” the commands to “Love God” and to “Love our neighbor.” The purpose of this blog series is to show that everything Jesus commanded seems to specifically define the behaviors or attitudes that do or do not love him, God or our neighbor.

We encourage you to spend a season of time listening to, meditating upon and even memorizing many of his commands. Here are scriptures that teach us how to love our neighbor:

1. Jesus elevates Leviticus 19:18 to be equal with the great command: “The second is like [the great command]. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39).

2. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

3. “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; 15:12)

  • “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-15)
  • “Which of these three [i.e., Samaritan, priest and Levite] do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (Luke 10:36-37). What did the Samaritan do? “When he saw him, he took pity on him.He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’” (Luke 10:33-35). His love was compassionate, intentional, and sacrificial.

4. “Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)

5. “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:5-6; see also Matthew 5:31-32)

6. “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. . . . As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out ” (Matthew 10:1, 7-8; see also John 14:12)

7. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37)

  • “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:13-14)
  • “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (Luke 12:32)
  • To the Pharisees: “Be generous to the poor” (Luke 11:41).

8. Although not a direct command, the assumption is that Jesus would have us do these things as unto him: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:37-40).

9. “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28)

10. “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.  Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12)

11. Don’t harm:

  • Jesus affirms the neighbor commands of the Ten Commandments: No stealing, murder, adultery, or bearing false witness and honor one’s father and mother (Matthew 5:21-30; 19:16-22).
  • “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
  • “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

“As a religious community, modeled on the first Christian community, our first great responsibility is to be community, revealing first to one another something of God’s own love, concern and tenderness—what it means to know and be known, to love and be loved, and thus to be a sign witnessing the deepest vocation of the church, which is to gather people from every tribe and tongue, and people and nation, redeemed by the blood of Christ, to form God’s family of love. ‘See how they love each other.’” (Mother Teresa, Total Surrender)