“But the second commandment is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Matthew 22:39
Everything Jesus said is important, but which words are most important?
Based on his story about the fool who built his house on sand and the wise man who built on solid rock (Matthew 7:24–27), it’s the doing, not the hearing that matters. Whatever I miss or ignore will not help me at all. Therefore, Jesus’ most important words are those I hear, take to heart, and obey. Those words will change my life.
We have another prime directive.
Jesus said that loving people was every bit as important as loving God. Really? Surely he didn’t mean we should love everybody.
For strength and having all my needs met “according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), I can easily love God. Loving people who are kind to me is a natural response. But can I love the person who lies about me, who would steal from me, maybe even kill me? As I’m driving down the road, can I love the stranger who cuts me off and I have to hit the brakes?
We’re called to love people, not be judge and executioner.
As a kid in church, I sang a song about Jesus loving all the children of the world—red, yellow, black, and white. I wasn’t the only person God loved. He also loved everybody else, and I should love them too.
Easier said than done.
Billy sat on the other side of the room, so he wasn’t a bother to me. Since I’d seen him bully other kids in the second grade, I waited outside after school. When he came out the door, I threw a hard right fist into his stomach and ran, with only a glimpse of Billy doubled over, crying. That experience changed my life, because I felt like I had hit myself in the stomach. I vowed never to do anything like that again.
Vengeance is love’s worst enemy.
Hatred is a fire that will destroy us if we allow it to keep burning. If we don’t recognize that fact and we choose not to get rid of our anger, we will justify our actions while  blaming others for their misconduct—and we will deprive ourselves of love’s most rewarding feeling, the kind that God enjoys when he loves the undeserving.
When God said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19), he took a responsibility that humans should never want. But some do. Why? Maybe because they want God’s mercy for themselves but not others.
Jesus said we should love our enemies.
Those words must have been a shock to first-century Jews who sought justice, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Yet Jesus said, if someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek. Really? You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve heard preachers say Jesus didn’t really mean that. But they are wrong.
If you really love someone, you might be hurt by their actions but you can’t hate them. You still want the best for them. You don’t want to strike back.
Jesus said we would be known as his disciples because of our love (John 13:35), which can only be true when our behavior is not what most people do.
Love finds greater blessing in giving than in getting.
Our net worth is measured by what we have kept for ourselves, but our value is measured by how much we have given.
This is my commandment: love others as I have loved you. There is no greater love than for a man to sacrifice his life for his friends. — John 15:12–13