What Do You Mean – Love Your Neighbor?


Hermanus W. Smeenk

 Have you ever stopped to think what love is or "what makes me love someone else?"

Just what is this quality of human nature that we call "love?"

What motivates us to love another person?

Why do we love others?

Could it be some innate quality in our human nature, one of our nature’s "good" qualities that expresses itself towards others?

Lets take this a step further and ask "Is human nature basically good?"

Ask any one on the street whether they believe that people are basically good, and the vast majority will answer this in the affirmative.

Some people even take violent exception to the idea that human nature or people are not basically good.

Others may even admit that people are actually a mixture of good and evil.

But, if this is so, how are people able to exhibit so much "love" towards others?

Is there, after all, something to the statement that "so many people can’t be wrong?"

Discuss this question with anyone, and everyone will be able to point out someone that they know who has exhibited so much love to others that there’s no question but that this individual must be a "true Christian" a "saint" if you will.

Let’s ask the question again, "what motivates an individual to express their love for someone else?"

We all know of, and I might add, we’ve all at one time or another been involved with someone with whom, according to the vernacular, we were deeply in love and for whom we would have done anything that was asked of us.

Someone might say "well, doesn’t this prove that people are capable of performing selfless acts and are "giving" by nature?"

Let’s analyze this and see if this is so.

First, let me ask, "how many people do you know who are as much in love with one another after being married a year or more as when they were dating one another?"

What is the divorce rate in the United States at this time, 50 percent, 60 percent, or more?

When do most divorces occur, after the first, second, or fifth year, or later?

Most divorces occur before couples have been married for five years.

In addition, the longer people are married, the messier become the divorces.

So, what happened to this "deeply in love" condition of these couples.

What made them "fall out of love" so soon?

I’m sure everyone reading this can come up with one reason or another, but I think I can summarize the overriding reasons in one word—Covetousness.

I’m sure there will be those that will argue about this, but I think if you’ll look at it from a logical point you’ll see where I’m coming from.

Love, as we think of it, is an emotion.

I think every one will agree with this.

However, there is something in our nature that causes us to experience this emotion.

In other words, love is an effect of a root cause.

That root cause, whether we realize it or not, is based on selfishness, which is the overpowering drive in human nature.

Selfishness is the driving force behind the majority of our actions.

It is the nature of Satan that was instilled into Adam and Eve and all their descendants when they rebelled against God’s command not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Selfishness, then, is the driving force behind the emotion of love.

We love someone of the opposite sex, whether we realize it or not, because our mind or our human spirit, hopes for the fulfillment of our needs by the member of the opposite sex.

The more that individual supplies our needs, whether it be a feeling of security or being wanted, monetary security, power, or whatever has its highest priority in our lives, the more we find ourselves in love with that individual.

Conversely, the less that individual is able to fulfill our needs and desires, the less we love that individual.

Some people become so frustrated with their unmet needs and desires that they’ll begin to hate their husband or wife.

Some will even go so far as to make the life of the former husband or wife absolutely miserable even years after the divorce was final.

Taking revenge on another individual is not an uncommon practice in our society.

However, in my experience I've seen that this in normally the case in many divorces.

As you can see, there is a lot of selfishness behind the emotion of love.

Many marriages end in a divorce because one or the other of the married couple meets an individual that may be better able to satisfy to needs of that married partner.

As a result, they "fall out of love" with their partner and "fall in love" with the new "friend".

Whether it is for greater security, satisfaction of ones sex drive, or to get power or to get out from under someone who exercised power over them.

Human nature leads us to seek that which will bring us the greatest satisfaction of our needs.

We covet that which we think will make us happier with the least amount of effort on our part.

Therefore, I stated earlier that the overriding reason for divorce is covetousness.

There would be vastly fewer divorces if we all obeyed God’s law concerning covetousness.

Paul wrote about love in I Corinthians 13 and provided us with a clear picture of what love is really about.

In this chapter, Paul explains that love suffers long, is kind, envies not, vaunts not itself nor is puffed up (proud), does not behave unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in evil doing but rejoices in the truth.

Love bears all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

What a difference when we think of our human relationships in which we get all we can out of a relationship and leave it when the well of gifts runs dry.

Clearly, the love Paul wrote about is not a love based upon our emotions but based upon our actions.

What I see here is a forgetting about self (could Christ have been talking about this when He said that His disciples were expected to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him?) and caring only for others.

Paul explains that we must serve one another in this manner.

In Matthew 5 Christ also warned that we must love our enemies.

And how did He say to love our enemies?

                                                 "Do good for them that hate you",
                                                  "Bless them that curse you", and
                                                  "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you."

Clearly, Christ is not talking about us having an emotional love towards our enemies, but He’s talking about action.

GODLY LOVE IS ACTION, not an emotion.

Christ also stated "If you love me you’ll keep my commandments".

Again, He’s talking about ACTION, not an emotion.

We sometimes speak of "acts of love".

These are independent of our emotions or feelings towards others.

We can perform an act of love to our enemies by denying our feelings towards them, denying thoughts of ourselves and putting our minds on how to serve them.

This is the kind of love God expects His children to exhibit towards others.

This is the kind of love that results in the fruits of the Spirit about which Paul wrote in Galatians 5-- "...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance."

These are also the fruits of love that Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 13 and they should be because God is Love and the fruits of the Spirit are those exhibited by the Father and Jesus Christ.

After all, the Spirit is only another name for the Father and Jesus Christ.

They are both Spirit and are both Holy, therefore, they are both Holy Spirits.

Let us who have been called by the Father and have been separated by Him from the world steadfastly seek His help and strength to exhibit his love and to see the love of this world for what it is, selfishness and covetousness.

These are the fruits of Satan’s nature and also our human nature.

Let us forsake our old way and cling to The Way that the Father has shown us in His Word.

Let us love one another through our deeds, not through our emotions.

Top of Page

  Return to Table Contents