The way Jesus positions these two directions for your love requires that they must be viewed as inseparable-undividable! You can’t have one without the other. I’ve always visualized this couplet as a right angle-the perpendicular, vertical direction is love toward God and the horizontal, direction is love toward others. It’s like a big L, which stands for LOVE. Think of the right angle L-shaped visual and do your best to practice them together. One requires the other and they are truly inseparable!
So, who is your neighbor? Jesus was asked this and seemed to say that your neighbor is anyone you come upon who is in need. To be a neighbor you must not walk past or avoid the person in need, if you have the wherewithal to be helpful. Jesus also makes it clear that you are not to help someone, expecting anything in return.
NOTE Jesus says to “love your neighbor as you love your self.” What’s this all about? I think it’s clear that the quality and care you take to love your neighbor ought to be equal to how much and well you love your self. Now here’s the problem. If you don’t love your self, then your neighbor is in a heap of trouble!
We live in a world where self-love and acceptance is rare. This may seem strange with all of the selfishness that permeates our cultures. Self-love and acceptance are not based upon your performance; they’re not based upon anyone else’s approval of you, although this is precisely where we naturally go for approval-to others. You won’t find any sense of satisfaction in seeking approval from others. You don’t want others’ approval; you might want and need their affirmation of you, but not their approval. If you give the “others” in your world enough power to give you approval, you also give them the power to destroy you. Only your Creator can place the stamp of approval on you. (God has also given the right to parents to give His stamp of approval on their children, whether they do it or not.)
So, there are two directions of this love stated by Jesus-love God and love others. BUT there is one other direction of love that is the bottom-line here-the foundation of all love. The third direction of love is God’s love for you and me. We love because He first loved us. Because of God’s unconditional love and relentless search to have a relationship with you, you now have the ability and freedom to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.
SECRET #1 is: The follower of Jesus loves God with all his heart. SECRET #2 is: The follower of Jesus loves his neighbor. Who are the neighbors in need who have been brought your way? To follow Jesus do your best to love them and you will make a major difference in their lives as well as your own!
These first two secrets are foundational to all of the rest we are going to examine-to love God and to love your neighbors. In fact, if you ever get overwhelmed with all of the teachings and principles of following Jesus, always default back to these first two secrets. If you practice these two as a lifestyle, you will be practicing the Kingdom purely and powerfully. If you embrace these two, you will learn how to really live life to its fullest! So, why not go for it, starting today?