My Thought for the New Year

A group of Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the Bible was, and He answered them, starting in Matthew 22:37 and running through verse 40:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.

I thought it might be fitting to begin the new year by exploring this commandment. Of course, loving God with all my heart and soul and mind is the starting point. If I don’t love the God who created me and who provides for all my needs, then nothing else really matters. That’s foundational.

Fortunately, it’s very easy for me to love God. When I reflect on my life before I accepted Jesus as my Savior and try to think what my life today would be without Him, I know that I know that I know that I need Him. And if I need Him and He meets my need, then loving Him is easy.

God loves me unconditionally and has since the foundation of the earth. He loved me before I was conceived and has every day of my life. He loved me before I accepted Him and the gift of His Son.

My love for Him is not of the same quality as His for me. As a child and a teenager and a young adult, I didn’t love Him. I didn’t hate Him—I just didn’t think about it all that much. My love for Him is reactionary. He loved me, and only when I became aware of that and of what it meant did I love Him. But my salvation was such a deep and radical thing that my only reaction was a deep and abiding love for Him. A love with all my heart and soul and mind.

Jesus said the second commandment was like the first—to love my neighbor as myself. What does that mean?

First of all, it implies that I must love myself. August McLaughlin talks a lot about the need to love one’s self. She doesn’t approach it by quoting scriptures, but she has a firm understanding of the principle. She tells us to love ourselves as we are, which is exactly what Jesus is talking about here. I must come to terms with myself and come to love myself as I am. Only then can I face the world around me.

Okay, if I must love myself as I am, and I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself, doesn’t this mean I must accept my neighbor as he or she is? It’s not my place to say I’d love so-and-so if he would quit being this way or if she would just be that way. If my neighbor needs to change his or her ways, that’s between him or her and God. He will make that need known, and He will provide that person with the power to change. My job is to love that person as is.

Okay, I’m to love my neighbor as is, but who is my neighbor? According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the Greek word Jesus used for neighbor, plesion, has a much wider meaning than we normally accord to the English word neighbor.

Jesus wasn’t talking about the person whose house is next door to mine or across the street from mine. He was talking about everyone whose life touches mine or whose life mine touches—friends, relatives, waitresses, store clerks, or anyone else who is a part of my world.

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re my neighbor. If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’re my neighbor. As of Monday morning, Twitter says that I had 7,635 followers. Facebook says I have 1,534 friends. My blog subscribers are probably all in one or both of those categories, so I won’t count them separately, but that’s 9,169 people whose lives I touch and/or who touch my life through cyberspace.

I have personal relationships or have at least met some of these people face-to-face, but most I have not met. But our lives still touch, which makes us neighbors. And I have no trouble at all saying that I love each and every one of you. Not because I’m such a great, loving person, but because God has planted such a deep and abiding love in my heart that it’s easy for me to love you, whether I ever meet you personally or not.

Whether or not I ever meet you, my life is a little bit richer because you have touched it. I hope I’ve made yours a little bit richer also. That’s my desire for you as we enter this new year: that something I have done or said would make your life a little bit richer.

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If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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13 Responses to My Thought for the New Year

  1. Jodie Heath says:

    That was very beautiful David. As for me & my household we will serve the Lord. I have had the pleasure of meeting you face to face and love you as well.

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  2. Thanks Dave for that nice ringing in of the new year. I shall try to remember your words throughout the year, but I might need a reminder. That is how you have made my life a little richer, reminding me to be more aware of what God wants me to do.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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  3. Barb Estinson says:

    I like this post, David. Of course it is harder to love those who have “wronged” us in some way … that is where forgiveness comes in. Harder still is loving people whose actions are violent, abusive, scary. But I have seen examples of the power of transformation by acting in love toward people in scary situations. Tough to do!

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  4. Excellent points, David, and a very thoughtful post! Self-love is one of the most selfless steps we can take, IMO, as it frees us up to love and help others. Thanks for the kind mention!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dmswriter says:

    This reminds me of when we’d teach our kids to think of who their neighbors were. We’d start out with the obvious (the ones across the street) and go through our day, recognizing the store clerk, the bus driver, and anyone else who crossed the kids’ path, as a neighbor. I like how you expand this and make cyber friends your neighbor, too. Great lesson!

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  6. Sharon K. Walker says:

    What an infinitely more wonderful world this would be if we all loved our neighbors as ourselves, and they, us. This is an extremely difficult commandment to follow, I think.

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    • Thanks, sweetie. It’s difficult to follow in the flesh, but when we submit ourselves to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to direct our path, it becomes easy. It becomes our nature.

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