Romans 13: 9-10 (NIV) states: ďThe commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
How do we love our neighbors as ourselves? Let me offer a few suggestions; actually, eight suggestions in all:
Nearby: When we consider our neighbor anyone we come into contact with, we realize that we are bound to appreciate, elevate, and assist all people God puts in our path. One does not have to live in a house next door to be nearby to our daily existence.
Empathy: When we are sensitive and understanding to the problems, issues, and needs of those around us, we have the ability to truly reach out and offer assistance. When we post blame or ignore the frailty of mankind, we lack the compassion to truly reach out to those in need.
Indelible: Humans have the ability to leave an everlasting impression on those we have chosen to help through difficult times. The people we know who need a helping hand, be it financial, mental, or spiritual, they will remember the difference we made and the sincere effort we have offered. Reach out to those in need and leave a mark that canít be erased.
Generosity: If we our generous with the gifts God has blessed us with, we are clearly on a path that shies away from pride and boastfulness. We are putting the needs of those around us above our own comfort and concerns when we are charitable beyond the norm. If you give more to those in need than you can truly afford, you have fulfilled the call to love your neighbor as yourself. After all, donít we constantly spend more than we can truly afford on ourselves? I know I do!
Humility: As sinners redeemed only through the grace of Jesus Christ, we should not be boastful or arrogant in our quest to help others. In fact, if we can help our neighbor without being seen, we have done what the Bible has called us to do (See Matthew 6:1-4). If we do our acts of kindness to impress others, we have strayed from the kind of giving Jesus said comes truly from the heart.
Beneficial: Only when help and encouragement is offered in a way that is beneficial to the recipient are we truly making a life changing alteration that will last. If we just bail our neighbor out of a jam but do not suggest ways to avoid the same snare, we have not truly helped our brother or sister on the deepest and most sincere level. God wants us to lovingly share what we have learned in order to help our neighbors. James 1:5 commands us to share what we have learned from God with those who are seeking wisdom.
Outgoing: The good neighbor is always looking to meet new neighbors, embrace new friendships, and spread the Good News. Do we really love our neighbor if we donít share the Gospel that offers comfort, strength, and renewal? Our personality and our message must be focused outward. We canít be a beacon of hope if we are not willing to stand out a little. Be different, be inspired, and be ready to talk to others about Jesus, no matter how shy you think you are.
Reliable: A trustworthy neighbor doesnít make promises he canít keep. The reliability factor goes a long way toward convincing our friends, relatives, and associates that Godís character has taken hold in our own lives. When we prove ourselves to be unreliable, people question the source of our inner strength and are just as quick to see our faith as a house of cards that crumbles with the slightest wind. Offer help that can be delivered, and be intellectually honest when you do not have the means to help at the measure that is needed. A reliable man follows his reliable faith.