You may have often heard the saying “love your neighbor as you would yourself.” The phrasing of this saying is what makes it so special, and did you know it’s over two thousand years old. So what does “love your neighbor as yourself” mean? This article will dive into the depth of this proverb, its origins, interpretations, and how you can find meaning in it.
Who Is Our Neighbor?
Let’s first look into the most important question — who is your neighbor? Is it the person living next door to you? Does it include everyone from your neighborhood? Everyone from your district or county? Or is the term inclusive of everyone you know?
The answer is simple, your neighbor is every person that is near to you. You can take the word “near” to mean whatever you want in that context.
It can mean people whom you hold close to your heart, people living close to you, people you’ve known for a long time, or even people sitting next to you on the bus or next to you in the office. They can be “near” to you in any sense of the word, be it physical proximity, relationship, or association.
Remember this definition of the word “neighbor.”
Where Does the Saying Come From?
The story goes that, thousands of years ago, on the Sinai Mountain in Egypt, the Prophet Moses received a message from God. Moses was one of the most important prophets in Judaism and Christianity. He was on a mission to deliver the Jewish people from slavery and to the promised land of freedom where only God’s Law prevails.
The message he received was etched by God into a stone tablet. It contained the 10 commandments of God that are observed strictly by followers even today. The first and most important commandment was “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and all thy mind.” The second one was “Thou shalt, love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The Gospel of Matthew records Matthew asking Jesus what was God’s greatest commandment and Jesus responded with the same two.
What Does “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” Mean?
Everyone wants what’s best for them. That especially includes being loved, cared for, treated with respect and dignity, and having your back watched. Loving your neighbor as you would yourself means to love people the way you want to be loved by them.
You may have your own terms for how you want to be loved. But it is important that you make an effort to understand how others want to be loved and respect their terms as you would want yours respected.
Loving your neighbor as you would yourself is a saying with many layers. The basic premise is that everyone’s well-being should matter to you as much as yours. You can draw endless interpretations for what you need to do in practice to ensure that.
Ways to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Let Them Know You Care About Them
Letting people know you care about them makes them feel safer in life and much more confident. There are many ways of expressing to someone that you care about them. Here are some ideas for you to start with:
#1. Ask your parents about their health.
#2. Listen to your loved ones including parents, partner, or children, and even someone you may not know so well, when they talk about what’s bothering them and show empathy.
#3. Assist with chores around the house.
#4. Take up the initiative to solve simple problems for people you know.
#5. Help your neighbor with their move if they’re coming in or going out.
Pray For Them
If you believe in the power of prayer and know how to achieve success with it, you can pray for all the people you know and care to help them get out of a bind. It’s a loving, compassionate, and warm way to care about people. One such prayer about loving your neighbor is given below that you can look into. They say God is always listening, so you have no reason to never try a prayer.
Be There for Favors
There are often people in our lives who care about us and whom we care about, but they don’t ask for favors often. If you’re busy or have enough problems of your own to deal with, it’s okay to not always be there for someone of your own volition. But if they ever ask for favors, it’s your opportunity to show that you care. Don’t miss these opportunities. They help you form stronger bonds with people.
Prayer To Love Your Neighbor
Lord, you have said
that to truly love you
then I must also
love my neighbor,
which can be difficult
when we disagree
or lifestyles clash.
Yet in overcoming
it is possible to see
the miracle that you
love someone like me.
Teach us to love, Lord,
as you have loved us
that this world might be
a better neighborhood
in which to live and share.