By Brother Gary Wheeler

You know, sometimes, it’s really hard to follow the commands of Jesus, especially that “love your neighbor as yourself” one.

I mean, come on!

Did He live in a community with an HOA? Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things how tall your grass is, and do they have to come by when you are having friends over for a picnic and give you a citation for an eighth of an inch over?

How about that guy whose dog leaves little presents a few times a week in your yard? Or the lady who puts political signs on your property for the candidate and party you don’t like?

How about that neighbor down the street who has a 10-foot skeleton yard decoration, and it’s not even Halloween? Or that dude who plays his loud rock-n-roll music when he’s washing his car? (Oops, that’s me!)

Yep, loving your neighbor as yourself is hard!

Multiple times in the Gospels, Jesus quoted this well-known phrase from Leviticus 19:18. There was the time when the rich young man asked Him, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16, ESV)

There was the time during His last week where a lawyer asked Him what the greatest commandment was.

Then, there was that time another lawyer asked how to inherit eternal life. When he wanted to justify himself, he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” and we received the story of the Good Samaritan.

Isn’t that the heart of the matter? We can love the neighbor who shovels the snow off your sidewalk before you even know it snowed last night. We can love the lady across the street who makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and always shares a dozen with you. We can love it when our son or daughter buys the house next door.

But life has a way—and I’m certain God has His hand in it—to put the hardest person to love right next to us, all to challenge us:

  • to see the other with His eyes…
  • to serve the other, even if they are about to turn you over to the authorities…
  • to forgive all who crucify you…


Ok, you know where this is going.

To love your neighbor as yourself is the ultimate in following the example of Jesus. He loved sinners, despite being sinless. He was selfless with the crowds when they were selfish. He was patient with the disciples and their ignorance when He was all knowing.

The neighbor that irritates you, who at speaks ill of you in the office, who denies Christ, is exactly the one we are to love.