“For the whole law is fulfilled in one command: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Galatians 5:14
What greater attitude or conviction is there but virtuous and godly love? What better way to model such love than to compare it to how you love yourself? Who better to be an object of such love than your neighbor? The attitude, model and object of love are clear, such that if you want to know how to rightly love your neighbor, look to how your love yourself as the first example.
How do you love yourself in times of need? How do you love yourself in times of disappointment? How do you love yourself in times of danger? Consider the loving and holy commandments? Would you be comfortable with another person seeking to murder you? Would you be happy with someone saying things about you in an adulterous way? Would you encourage someone to steal from you, lie and gossip about you, or have an obsessive desire for something you have? No, and in truth, we are far better at keeping the commandments for ourselves than we are at keeping them for others, though the same cannot be said for the first table of the law.
Therefore, you do not need a book to teach you how to love your neighbor. God has written His holy law on your heart and it’s the only teacher you need. In the same way you love yourself, you should love your neighbor. As you keep yourself from murder and hate, you should not hate your neighbor or even harbor anger against him. As you keep yourself from adulterous acts committed against you, you should not commit adulterous acts against your neighbor. As you keep yourself from verbal harm, gossip, and slander, you should seek to save and protect your neighbor from the same verbal harm, gossip, or slander. For as you love yourself, so love your neighbor.
This is the most virtuous of love. It serves not only with words, but with hands, money, possessions, and the very self. It’s not motivated by reward or gain, and it does not back off by the ungratefulness of the neighbor. As an eagle diligently and compassionately loves and cares for her chicks, so too must you learn to love your neighbor as yourself. For there is no law against such love.
Dear Lord, as I love myself, teach me to love my neighbor and where I fail to love my neighbor, bring me to sincere repentance and a right faith so that all my doings and life may please you and help my neighbor. Amen.
SACRED MUSIC FOR THE SEASON OF LENT…“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “In the Cross of Christ I Glory,” “My Song Is Love Unknown,” “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth.” You can listen to sacred music for the Lenten season 24/7 at lutheranpublicradio.org, TuneIn, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and the Lutheran Public Radio mobile app.