Loving God and Loving Neighbor

The two greatest commandments in the Bible are

1) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
2) Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Question: Is it possible to love your neighbor as yourself if you don’t love the Lord your God?

To a certain degree I think the answer is “yes.” Inherently we love ourselves. Even the heathen love their friends and family, even they know how to give gifts.

But I do think it is impossible to love your enemy, who may be your neighbor, without loving the Lord.

We love Him because He first loved us. When we see that while we were yet sinners, Christ demonstrated His love to us, we see that loving your enemy is something God does regularly and we were that enemy.

If we are at all impressed with this, it will show in our ability and desire to love even those who hate us, just as God did/does. Just as forgiveness is to be demonstrated by the forgiven sinner, so to is love.

You can surfacely love your neighbor apart from love of God, but I do think loving your enemy is purely Spirit-filled territory.

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One comment

  1. Frank Z.

    This is an important point. I’ve seen many professed Christian families where there was seemingly great love for family members, and this was put forth as evidence that they possessed the love of God.

    But at the same time, those who were not “of the family,” especially if they differed on some religious points of faith, (and therefore were considered “enemies”), were treated with quite a bit of reserve, if not actual suspicion and fear.

    We find the same problem in Jesus’ time, with the difficulty the Jews and Samaritans had with each other. Jesus, on the other hand, who really did possess the love of God, could reach out to both with the same freedom.

    I am always reminded that it was apparently the great love that the Jewish leaders had towards their nation (and families), that led them to crucify Jesus. In this act they showed that they did not have the love of God at all, since they found it impossible to “love their enemies.” What they had, which they thought was love, was simply the “lusts of the flesh” (as Jesus termed it in John 8), or to put it in other words, the “love of my flesh for flesh which is similar to itself.”