“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 neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
With this message I hope to help us all to be more diligent in living the second great commandment to love our neighbour, and to find areas in our own lives where we can make some changes and show more love towards one another.
LDS president the late Gordon B Hinckley said: “This principle of love is the basic essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without love of God and love of neighbour there is little else to commend the gospel to us as a way of life.”
The Bible dictionary says charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul.
Jesus Christ was the greatest example of kindness and compassion and the perfect example of charity.
He healed the sick, He spent much of His time ministering to the downtrodden and the weary, the suffering and the unwanted, and unloved.
He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, but not the sinner.
Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, and freeing all from the sting of death and the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance.
How can we love our neighbour better?
Here are some basic fundamentals to help us be more loving towards each other.
First: ”Judge not…”
A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighbourhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbour hanging out her washing.
“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbour doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”
John looked on but remained silent.
Every time her neighbour would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.
A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbour’s yard.
She said to her husband, “Look, John, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”
John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”
This story illustrates perfectly how we sometimes make the mistake of judging others.
Are we looking through a window which needs cleaning? Are we making judgments when we don’t have all the facts? What do we see when we look at others? What judgments do we make about them?
Do we let our thoughts get caught up in judging others harshly which of course leads to negative feelings and an absence of love?
Mother Teresa said “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Can we love one another, as the Saviour has commanded, if we judge each other?
The answer is no, the Saviour said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1)
I do not know of anyone who claims to be perfect, and yet for some reason, despite our own imperfections, we have a tendency to point out the faults of others. We make judgments concerning their actions or their failure to act.
So, let us choose charity over judgment and criticism.
The second thing we can do to be better in loving others is through the words we say.
Words can have a remarkable effect that lasts long past when they are said. The good news is that this is as true for kind words as it is for negative or destructive words. The effect of positive and encouraging, complimentary and inspiring words can lift people up, help them reach their goals, inspire them to be and do better, give them strength to overcome trials and truly make people happy.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. You have no doubt heard this phrase at some time in your life.
Yet words do have the power to hurt us. Words are a powerful force and the powerful effects of negative words cannot be underestimated. We all know how unpleasant and degrading it feels to be insulted or be told that we are stupid or we are not up to standard or are useless.
Let us replace hurtful words with compliments and encouragement, with gratitude and appreciation, with love, kindness and positivity.
“Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years.” – Joseph B Wirthlin
“Happiness is a great power of holiness. Thus, kind words, by their power of producing happiness, have also a power of producing holiness, and so of winning men to God.” – Frederick William Faber
The third principle that can help us to love others more is to be more charitable in what we do, our actions.
One of the great stories of the Bible is the story of the good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37)
Jesus was asked the question by the inquisitive lawyer, “….and who is my neighbour?”
Jesus responds by relating the parable about a Jewish traveller who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead on the side of the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveller. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man anyway. The Samaritan not only tends to the man, but sees to it that he is housed and cared for till he recovers.
Jesus then encourages the lawyer to “…go and do likewise.”
“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” ― Mandy Hale
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes
Life is made up of our choices, the choices we make each day create the story of our life so let us choose charity in our thoughts, words and actions that we may truly remember Christ in all that we do, that we may always strive to be an example and a true disciple.
In closing, here is a quote by one of the most charitable people who ever walked this earth:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centred. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them…anyway.” – Mother Teresa.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints