Love thy Neighbor

September 14, 2020

By David VanEpps

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the horrors that occurred on 9/11, nineteen years ago today.  Life, as we knew it, changed forever.  Something else changed that day.  A country was unified.  People set aside political division, racial division, and all other forms of man-made boundaries.  Love was at an epic level, as people hugged one another and worked together.

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’ But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’” (Luke 10:27-35 NIV).

This parable conveys several key messages from Jesus:

  • Jesus didn’t suggest love, He commanded it.

  • Love isn’t a just a good idea, it’s a key to eternal life. Jesus said, “Do this and you will live.”

  • In the context of this parable, Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  Yet the Samaritan was the one who demonstrated love towards the Jew. Our neighbor doesn’t just live next to us – our neighbor can be the person that’s hardest to love.

  • Jesus made it a point to call out that both the priest and Levite did nothing. Those were the people you expected to show love.

Loving in the Present Age

Love isn’t easy, but Jesus never said it would be.  God’s word has a lot to say about love that should help guide us in these difficult times:

  •   “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  The simple fact that love covers a multitude of sins is a humble reminder of our imperfections and the need for grace.  All of us share the quality of being imperfect, so we need the coverage that love brings.

  • “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12).  Hatred seems to be at an all-time high, and conflict is painfully abundant.  The differences between the Jews and Samaritans in the parable of the Good Samaritan could easily translate to any of the political, sexual, racial hatred we see today.  The good news is that God says that love covers all wrongs.  It can even cover hatred.

  • “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).  God, our Creator, is love.  We can’t know Him unless we love.

  • “Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).  God wants us to not only do some things in love, He wants us to do everything in love.  Yes, everything.

  • “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Not only does God tell us to love, He tells us to be humble, gentle, and patient.  He tells us to bear with one another in love, whether we want to or not.

How Can I Love, Today?

I recently completed a plan on YouVersion entitled How to Love People You Disagree With.  Here are a few, simple love-centric principles, largely derived from that plan:

  • Consider others first – seek to put the needs of others before your own.

  • Look for the best – seek the best in others, not the worst. God gave everyone unique, wonderful qualities.  You just have to look for them.

  • Show respect – while you may disagree with others’ perspectives, respect that God created them and gave them free will to formulate their own opinions.  God values their opinions, so should you.

  • Seek unity – at no point does God place divides between His children.  He views all of us as His children, and so should we.

  • Show empathy – try to imagine how others feel. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences that shape who we are, and those are all part of God’s perfect plan. He wants us to empathize with each other.

  • Be patient – when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit are a natural outcome.  Galatians 5:22-23 says that these fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Imagine your life if others saw you this way!

  • Seek the bigger picture – remember that our time on earth is miniscule in comparison to our time in eternity.  Focus on eternity and what God not only wants, but what He commands – love.

Make Today Your Day

Choose Jesus.  If you choose to follow Jesus, love is a natural outcome.  He will guide your path, and He will help you get rid of any hate in your life.

  • Pray.  Your prayers don’t need to be eloquent; they just need to be real.  Have a conversation with Jesus as if He were sitting next to you.

  • Read.  Spent time in the Bible, even if just a few minutes a day.

  • Listen.  Take some quiet time to listen to what God may be saying to you.

  • Act. Act on any nudges you feel from God.  Apply any of the points above to your life.  I challenge you to pick a different principle of love each day and attempt to apply it to your life.  Give yourself grace when you struggle, and keep trying.  Over time, love will become a habit.


  1. Alexis Vanepps says:

    Thank you!! It’s so easy to learn and easier to forget that he not only loves me, but every single person i encounter. I’m excited to take on the challenge of a different aspect of love each day.

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