“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 
Since their earliest years of school, children are taught to treat others how they want to be treated. The origin of this saying is found in the Bible. Jesus commanded us to “love thy neighbor,” and emphasized its importance by repeating it several times throughout the Bible. This collective action would solve nearly all of the problems our world faces today, yet we often overlook this quote instead of living by it.
What seems like such a simple task has been complicated by the ways of modern society. It is now though, especially during this global pandemic, that we need to return to look at Jesus’ word and practice his command. Even without considering the Biblical origins, loving your neighbor is a critical part of creating and upholding strong communities. So how can we love our neighbors as ourselves?
When we consider how to love our neighbors, sometimes we forget about the second part, which is loving ourselves. The quote, and Jesus’
command, after all, is to love thy neighbor as thyself. Which means that in order to love our neighbors as best we can, we must love ourselves.
Self love is a continuous process, and often a hard one. Whether your self-love journey has just begun, or you already love yourself radically,
here are some easy things to do to show yourself some love:
Get to know yourself better. Living mindfully can help us appreciate and connect more to our bodies and minds. Meditation is a great way to start practicing mindfulness . Even just 5 minutes a day can make a big difference. For more information and instructions on meditation, check out Mindful.
Daily affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that are repeated in order to change negative thought patterns, and in turn change negative behaviors. Practicing positive affirmations has been proven to decrease our tendency to linger on negative thoughts . If you struggle with negative self-talk, affirmations may help you stop! Here is a list of positive, daily affirmations.
Know your boundaries. It is important to set boundaries in relationships to establish how you want to be treated. This can include how you treat yourself! Maintaining boundaries plays a crucial role in measuring self respect. We have a whole blog post on the importance of boundaries in friendships here.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus gave two commands to the Pharisees when one of them asked him what the greatest commandment of the law was. The second was to love thy neighbor as thyself. We must live by both commandments if we wish to follow Jesus’ word.
The first commandment was to love God with all of our hearts [refer back to 1]. To honor this commandment, we should look to strengthen and deepen our faith. If you have yet to create a relationship with God, now is a great time to start! Fortunately, Jesus’ purpose was to redeem and transform our lives, so it is never too late to accept him into your life. Some easy ways to connect to God are:
Show gratitude to God. Thanking God for everything in your life is an easy way to connect to Him. Gratitude prayers are direct ways to acknowledge and communicate to God that you appreciate his blessings.
Listen to worship music. Put in your headphones, and really listen to the lyrics. Often music helps us relate to feelings we have trouble putting into words. Music can also help us feel closer to God, if we’re struggling.
Pick out your favorite Bible quotes and write them down on paper. Make them as decorative as you want, or simply scribble the words down. Hang them up in places that you’ll see often. On your mirror, by the front door, or in your kitchen. As you go throughout your day, you’ll be
reminded of God when you see the notes.
TANGIBLE WAYS TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
A neighbor refers to those near to us. The commandment of loving thy neighbor as thyself includes other parts, as we mentioned above, but
perhaps the most direct way we can follow this command is to do tangible things for those close to us. Caring for our neighbors is a way to inspire a cycle of giving and receiving, which creates a strong community. Here are some ideas for ways to love your neighbors:
Let them know you care about them. This can be a note left on their door, or a baked good on their doorstep, or some flowers. Letting them know you’re thinking of them is often enough to inspire love inside of them, encouraging them to do the same for others.
Pray for them. Directly praying for someone by name is powerful. If you know your neighbor needs God, include them in your prayers.
Be there for favors. The great thing about neighbors is that they are often people we can rely on if we need something. Be that person for your neighbors, and hopefully they’ll do the same for you. In my neighborhood, we are always lending ingredients to each other if somebody is missing something, carpooling, and caring for each other’s pets.
Jesus commanded us to love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbors. We should honor him by doing these things, because he loves us. We can use his love for us to inspire love within ourselves — for ourselves, and for those around us. Loving communities are valuable, especially in times of crisis, like we are going through now.
This article mentioned ways to love your neighbors in general, but some of them may not be possible for you to do in quarantine.
It is still important that we follow the protocol of the CDC to wear masks, wash hand and socially distance.