The Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
It isn’t just a Christian precept. It seems to be present in almost all of the world’s great religions.
In Hinduism, it is: “One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire.”
In Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
Jainism: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.”
Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”
And even Zoroastrianism: “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.”
Religions around the world throughout the history of time tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Depending on how we define ‘neighbor,’ that can either be unbelievably easy to do or unbelievably difficult to do.
Fortunately, for folk who consider themselves Christians, or even those who are just interested in the teachings of Jesus, he told us exactly who we should consider our neighbors.
It’s in a little story called “The Good Samaritan.”
In it he tells us that our “neighbor” is anyone in need. Not the person who lives next door, not the people with whom you are most comfortable, not people who act like you, think like you, look like you, or love like you – no, it is anyone who is in need. If you wish to grow your spirituality deeper, if you hope to show the world the gains of a deeply spiritual life, it will be by your love – your love for neighbor, your love for those in need.
And let’s face it, all of us are in need.
Whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, not one of us, none of us has enough hope in our lives, has enough grace in our lives, has enough peace in our lives… has enough love in our lives.
We all need something. Be it food, water, love, a friend, a helping-hand, spiritual nourishment, intellectual understanding, emotional stability… we all, indeed, are in need.
What you must ask yourself is – do I? Do I love my neighbor? Do I love those in need?
The bottom line is, we’ve all got work to do. We are all only human. It can be hard work to not just walk on by those in need. It is hard work to love those we might see as unlovable. It can be hard work to love those who don’t act like you, think like you, look like you, love like you.
But that is what we are called to do.
We’ve got work to do.
And, it’s worth it.