In Mark 12, Jesus gives us the Greatest Commandment. In the second part of that commandment, Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Recently, a counseling client I will call Mack asked me what loving your neighbor in this way looks like in practical terms. Mack had recently come to Christ and was looking for specific things he could do to get started down the road to a life of service. My first reaction was caution. It sounded like Mack might fall into the trap of approaching the concept of loving his neighbors as a box-checking exercise.
We discussed this phenomenon for some time, and I eventually became convinced he wasn’t going there. Mack just wanted help taking the first few baby steps in a life he was trying to turn around. Consequently, I agreed to brainstorm with him on some ideas for showing love to his neighbors. Since working with Mack on this issue, I have shared the list we developed with numerous other Christians who were trying to obey Christ’s admonition from Mark 12. Here is the list we developed (not in any particular order of importance or significance). It might be helpful to you.
Observe the people you interact with. When you see that someone is hurting or struggling with an unmet need, step in and help.
When people need to talk, take the time to listen. Don’t offer advice unless they ask for it and don’t try to solve their problems for them; just listen.
Be willing to forgive others who have wronged you and quick to ask for forgiveness from those you have wronged.
Rejoice in and celebrate the successes and good fortune of others.
Be humble and share the credit when receiving recognition for a job well done.
Support people who take a stand for what is right even when doing so is unpopular.
Be willing to sacrifice to help others who are in need (i.e. your money, time, gifts, expertise, etc.).
Refuse to exploit others no matter how much it might appear to benefit you in worldly terms.
Never encourage others to do wrong even if the goal is a good one. Remember, there is no right way to do a wrong thing.
Never take pleasure in the misfortune of others (i.e. avoid envy and jealousy).
Never do or say anything to get a cheap laugh at the expense of others.
Refuse to participate in gossip about your neighbors.
By the end of our counseling session, this was the list Mack and I had developed. I was pleased when Mack approached me a couple of months later with an update. He said the list had helped him get started, but he didn’t need it anymore. He said, “If you keep your eyes and ears open, you will never be at a loss to find people who need help. You just have to think more about others and less about yourself.” That is good advice for all of us.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com