Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself Depends on the Target?
Matthew 22:37-39 says: “Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the’ teaching for His followers—loving God and loving others; in addition, He also makes some detailed requirements of man. For example, Luke 6:27 and 6:29 says “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.” “And to him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak forbid not to take your coat also.” The Lord Jesus bestows us too much grace and blessing, and we have felt His mercy and lovingkindness deeply. Therefore, we believe that we should live out the image as He requires to glorify Him and repay His love; bearing all things and enduring all things seem to serve as the code of conduct for almost every Christian.
We still love our family members who are not believers, our neighbors, and even the government with tolerance and patience when they persecute and slander us. When we deal with others, we also treat them with tolerance and patience though they damage our interests. We deem that only by doing this are we the people who love the Lord, because Christians have been practicing forbearance and patience over two thousand years. Today, in the last days, we would like to practice loving others as ourselves, being forbearing and patient with others by keeping His words, but always fail. We often practice it outwardly, but are unwilling to go through it. For example: When unbelievers do something that damages our interests, when there is strife among brothers and sisters or co-workers, when our unbelieving families obstruct us in worshiping God, and so on, we often feel distressed about that, and can’t help thinking: Should we Christians exercise patience in everything?
The Lord’s words are truth. We will not go wrong when acting in accordance with His words, that is, when practicing forbearance and patience, and loving others as ourselves. However, we need to know the practicing principles of these words. Otherwise, if we just observe regulations, our spirit can’t be liberated, nor will God remember us. In fact, God’s requirement of man is principled. Just as when the Lord came to work, He, in every way, tolerated, endured and supplied His apostles as well as believers who followed Him. However, to those Pharisees who resisted Him, He rebuked, condemned and cursed them. For instance, Matthew 23:13-15 says: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” These were the words that the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees at that time. The Pharisees believed in God but refused to accept the truth, and moreover, they obstructed people from returning to God. They, for the sake of their status and livelihoods, had no reverence for God. Therefore, God condemned and cursed them according to their essence of standing as an enemy to God. Take Judas as another example. He betrayed the Lord and friends. And then he died with his body bursting open in the middle due to God’s punishment. It can be clearly seen that God is principled in the way He deals with others, and He does not practice tolerance and patience to everyone in all things.
However, now God asks us to act according to principles. For brothers and sisters who truly believe in and love God, whatever prejudice we have toward them, we should treat them with tolerance, forgiveness and love. But to those who resist God and hate God, we should treat them differently. Just as God’s word says, “You must look at how God treats ignorant people, how He treats those with immature stature, how He treats the common expressions of man’s corrupt disposition and how He treats those who are somewhat malicious. He has different ways of treating different people and He also has different ways of managing different people’s different conditions” (“If You Wish to Attain the Truth, Then You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of’s Talks). “What does God’s word require as the principle for treating others? Love what God loves, hate what God hates. That is, the people loved by God who truly pursue the truth and who carry out , are the people you should love. Those who don’t carry out God’s will, hate God, disobey God, and are despised by God, are people we should despise and reject. That’s what God’s word requires” (“Knowing Yourself Requires Knowing Your Deep-rooted Thoughts and Views” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
From God’s words, we see His requirements of us: “Love what God loves, hate what God hates.” Thus we should see things according to His word. Those who love God, fulfill their duties loyally and are willing to seek and practice the truth when encountering things, are pious Christians that we should love. Even if they harm our interests or hurt us temporarily, we should assist them with love, tolerance and patience, in order that they can understand the truth little by little. Just as God’s words say, “God treats each and every person like this: Some people may be of immature stature, or they may be young, or may not have believed in God for very long and God may see that the essence of their nature is not bad or malicious, only that they are somewhat ignorant or lacking in caliber, or that they have been infected too much by society. They may not yet have entered into the reality of the truth and may not yet have crossed the threshold, and so it will be difficult for them to avoid doing ignorant things or expressing their ignorance. But God doesn’t see these things—He sees only that person’s heart. If they have resolved to enter into the reality of the truth, they take this correct direction and have this objective, then God watches them, waits for them and gives them the time and the opportunities to allow them to enter. It is not that God dismisses any redeeming feature they may have or beats them the moment they make a mistake. God has never treated anyone that way, right? God doesn’t treat people like this. So if people treat each other like this, isn’t it because of their corrupt disposition? It is indeed because of their corrupt disposition” (“If You Wish to Attain the Truth, Then You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
But to another kind of person, for example, those who blaspheme God, curse God, judge God or resist God but don’t repent should be abandoned and despised. Many people around us, hearing that the Lord has returned, begin to resist, condemn and blaspheme Him wantonly, and they are hated by God. Just as when the Lord Jesus came to do work at that time, the Pharisees spread rumors, saying the Lord cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Eventually, they were cursed by God because of their blasphemy of Him, and the entire Jewish nation was subjected to the pain of subjugation, for the Lord Jesus said: “Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever speaks a word against, it shall be forgiven him: but whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32). Therefore, we should treat people, matters and things around us according to principles. We can’t follow evil forces to resist or condemn God. Facing the Lord’s return, we should have a seeking heart, because the Lord said, “For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:8).