Loving our neighbor is a biblical mandate and the foundation for the Golden Rule, but the phrase is not complete without the last two words: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, emphasis added). If we are to be vessels used for pouring out the Father’s love on others, we must always be unselfish in our concern for them.
Regardless of how we act or feel, our Father loves us perfectly. The proof is in John 3:16, which says God loved mankind so much that He gave His Son to die for their sins. And He did this while all human beings were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8-10)! No one is worthy of the sacrifice Christ made, and yet the Father’s perspective is that we are worth it. If He considers each of us that valuable, then we ought to look at others the same way.
Experiencing God’s love should inspire us to love our neighbors—this includes everyone in our sphere of influence, although some are easier to love than others. Throughout the gospels, Jesus repeated the command to His disciples, probably because He knew how often His followers, both then and now, would run into people who are difficult to love. But we are most like God when we ask, How can I serve this person? What is in his or her best interest?
Though we’ll encounter people who seem unlovable, the commandment stands: We are to love them as ourselves. This is a powerful evangelism tool. Few can resist the attraction of a loving friend acting on behalf of the perfectly loving Friend. Who among your neighbors needs to feel loved today?