Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:30-31
Many years ago on a beautiful Easter morning I was driving to my church to attend a sunrise service. I came up over a hill and saw an elderly woman walking along the side of the road. All of a sudden she fell and hit her head. I pulled along the berm of the road and stopped to help her. She was a bit disoriented from the fall but she got into my car and as I was turning around to take her to her home, another car pulled up. Some people got out of the car because they saw the lady sitting in my car. The first thing they asked me was, "Did you hit her with your car?" I quickly responded, "I did not hit her but saw her fall and stopped to help her up." Then they apologized and told me that they were very grateful that I came along and helped their mother.
When I think about this story, it is sometimes hard to remember that loving your neighbor as yourself goes beyond the reactions or expectations of others. It is more like treating the other person with a welcoming attitude, an entertaining spirit or a fondness of heart. When I saw the elderly lady fall, I had to make a split second choice whether to extend Christ's compassion or to just drive by. At the time I did not stop to consider all of my options but jumped immediately into loving this woman as though she was my dearest friend or relative. I felt compelled by the love of Christ to help her.
We may think - Who is my neighbor? The Greek word used for neighbor in this verse is plēsion which means according to Christ, any other man (or woman) irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet. (Strong's Concordance)
Loving your neighbor as yourself means stepping out of your comfort zone and extending to that person God's great love because after all, didn't God extend that love to you and to me?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13