Even those who know very little about the Bible, have already heard the message of Jesus, to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. However, it is sometimes good to assess where we are on that scale.
We live in a very self-centered world, where everyone seeks their interest. We sometimes see people taking selfies on social media doing something for someone in need. Their devotion to others becomes only another means of flattering their pride and it loses its value. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1 NKJV). What we must do, as a disciple of Jesus, is to love our neighbor without waiting to receive any gratification. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46 NKJV)
Let’s put this commandment back into our daily lives. Your next-door neighbor left his garbage bag by the stairs instead of putting it outside. In this situation, what does it mean to love your neighbor? You don’t mind spiders, but your co-worker is terrified. In this situation, what does it mean to love your neighbor? You have a busy schedule, but your old aunt is alone at home and bored. In this situation, what does it mean to love your neighbor? At the grocery store, there is only one bag of flour left and you and another customer want it. In this situation, what does it mean to love your neighbor? Considering all the anxiety, loss of life and money, caused by the current pandemic; how can we love our neighbor?
Jesus does not ask us to love our neighbor when it is convenient for us, or when a person could return the favor to us later. Our Lord also does not tell us to love those who are kind! The word “neighbor” used by Jesus in Matthew 22:39 is translated from the Greek word “plesion” which means anyone we meet, regardless of nationality or religion. For the Jews, their “neighbors” were only other Jews, and Jesus rebuked them by telling them the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Our grace should have no conditions.
Obviously, to be able to offer our love to others, we must first have received it ourselves from God. It is much easier to forgive others when we understand the magnitude of the forgiveness that has been granted to us on the cross. And we must immerse ourselves in this love not only on the day of our salvation but every day. We must fill ourselves with His Spirit daily to the point where it will spill over onto our neighbors (Psalm 23:5). If we believe that what we give to others deprives us of something, if we have the impression that we will be losing something by loving our neighbor, it means that we have not been filled from a good source that is inexhaustible. “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV).
Why mention this to Singles? First, of course, because loving our neighbor is not a suggestion from Jesus, but a commandment. Failure to do so is to sin. But also, for someone single, loving our neighbor is also an excellent school for a future marriage. Because love is not an emotion. It’s a choice, it’s an action. So we should not trust our butterflies when we choose a partner but think carefully about the question: “Am I ready to serve this person for the rest of my days?” If we already practice the commandment of loving our neighbor with strangers, we will also be more ready to do so for the person who will share our daily life. Finally, a person who obeys this commandment, someone that is generous and not centered on themselves… it is also always more attractive!