Love your neighbor as yourself

So someone asked Jesus, which is the greatest commandment, and he answered with two: 

Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

I think a key to that second one may be the words “as yourself.” You have to have some love for yourself if you’re going to love your neighbor “as yourself.” And I think that explains a lot of the bad stuff in the world. People who loathe and mistreat their neighbors must be full of self-loathing, and their brutish behavior is their way of loving their neighbor the same way they (do not) love themselves.

And, you know? I had forgotten that Jesus was quoting from the Torah, the Old Testament, not just pulling those thoughts out of a hat.

“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” That’s Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

The second is a partial quote. The entire commandment in Leviticus 19:18 is, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” That kind of fleshes out the thought, doesn’t it?

I’m not the most devout guy in the world, and I don’t talk in these terms often, but I must say I think the world would be a better place if we adhered to those two commandments as much as possible. And from my glancing knowledge of other faiths, I think they’re more universal commandments that transcend Christianity.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

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