“Love your neighbor as yourself” is one of the most popular teachings from the Bible, even for non-Christians. Here are 11 verses that remind us of the truth of God behind this saying.
#1 It Is Essential to Our Christian Walk
1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
As believers, we are to be selfless and always consider the needs of others above our own. This shows that we possess the mind of Christ in our lives. If we seek our own good, we would still be honoring ourselves above God; but by shifting our thoughts and feelings, we show that we have God’s interests at heart.
#2 It Is the Fulfillment of God’s Law
Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
The Old Testament is the source of the Law of Moses, which was given to the nation of Israel as their covenant with God. Some people today think that Christianity still applies the letter of the Law to the modern church. While many of its precepts are true, the spirit of the Law is completely fulfilled in loving our neighbor as we would ourselves – caring for others as we would for ourselves.
#3 Jesus Taught Us to Do so in the “Golden Rule”
Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Many other philosophies and religions have appropriated this saying into their own moral codes, but Jesus teaches it in its originally intended form: loving our neighbor as ourselves is the fulfillment of the Law of God. This is the only acceptable application of the phrase: doing so as obedience to God’s commandments.
#4 It Foregoes Selfish Ambitions
Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
When we think that we are better than others, it only serves our selfish desires. When we set our own pride aside and truly love our neighbor, we displace that idol in our hearts and enter into a spirit of servanthood. This was clearly modeled and taught in the life of Christ, and we can still follow His leading today.
#5 There Are Many Ways to Do This
Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
This verse, nestled in Isaiah’s prophecies and oracles, shows several ways that we can live out this command from God. We must first of all seek to do good, and work towards justice for everyone equally in a way that removes barriers of oppression and judgment. Widows and orphans were generally recipients of this type of service because they typically could not repay the givers. This is the best fulfillment of selflessly loving your neighbor as yourself.
#6 It Shows That We Believe in God
1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
True Christian love does not have its source in the human heart; on its own, humanity will always choose to be selfish and self-serving. True love that changes lives and seeks the good of others before itself comes from God. God is the source of all love in the world, and it is proof to the world that we belong to Him.
#7 It Only Seeks Good, Not Harm
Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
We have already seen that love fulfills the law. One important followup to this is that love for our neighbor necessarily means that we do not harm the other person. If we did, then we would not be acting out of love, because a selfish love usually involves taking gain at someone else’s expense. Instead, when we love others, we seek to remove any harm and eliminate any malicious intent behind our actions. A correcting love may be painful at the time, but if we are careful and following Scripture as we do it then we can be sure that, ultimately, the other person’s good is at the core of our decisions.
#8 It Is the Purest Expression of God’s Love on Earth
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Orphans and widows are often cited as recipients of selfless love throughout Scripture. They were protected classes in the Old Testament, and New Testament Christians often noted their care for widows and orphans as an essential ministry of the early church. By going against the influences of the world and instead focusing on the things of God, we can be sure that this kind of love (whoever it is expressed toward) is a pure and true expression of God’s love to others.
#9 Love for Our Neighbor Can Overcome the Power of Sin
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Let’s be clear what this verse is not saying: it does not mean that love for our neighbor is the direct cause of the forgiveness of sins. Only the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His blood shed on the cross can do that. However, as we love others, our own sacrificial love can overcome the power of sin in our lives. We may not be able to atone for the sins of others, but our love and service can lead others to the cross where they too can experience the covering and washing of their sins by Jesus.
#10 God Explicitly Commands It and Forbids Vengeance
Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
Many other cultures condoned and even encouraged vengeance and retaliation when wrong was done to you. If you did not take revenge, you were considered weak and unworthy. However, the command of God is clear that vengeance belongs to Him alone, and we are not to take matters into our own hands. By loving others, we extend forgiveness even when it is undeserved; this carries over into New Testament Christianity with the spirit of mercy and grace as proclaimed in the Bible. God is very clear that we should love others as ourselves, and not consider them targets for our vengeful schemes.
#11 Jesus Teaches It as an Extension of Our Love for Him
John 15:12 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
It is explicitly commanded by God, and it is explicitly commanded by Jesus Christ, Who is the Son of God. By looking at the rest of Scripture to see how we can practically live this out, it is both comforting and sobering to return to this command from Jesus Himself: that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.