If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well:…
The word "neighbour" in this royal law had, through the lapse of ages, acquired a narrow meaning, mainly because men's thoughts and sympathies were less comprehensive than the Divine purpose. But Christ gave new applications to it, and a more expansive spiritual interpretation. The neighbour with Him was no longer confined to the same tribe, or to the dwellers in the same valley or nation, but became co-extensive with human suffering and misfortune throughout the vast family of mankind. "Love thy neighbour as thyself." It is easy for most persons to love themselves, and to accept what appears to be for their own advantage. It is quite right, too, for a man to love himself. But his love to himself is not to be supreme and all-absorbing. He has to love other persons. The neighbour, you will observe, is put on the same level as self. Look at the question in this way. Suppose you loved others as well as you love yourself. That might be an agreeable thing to them to possess the confidence of your love; and suppose you in return were loved by them as much as they loved themselves, that ought to be a source of comfort to you. Put in this light the royal law does not seem a hard one, does it? And if it operated universally in society, and through all circles, the effect would be very beneficent and delightful, would it not? "Yea, doubtless," say you, "but that is not where the shoe pinches. It is when we have to love others, or the neighbour who does not love us, where the gist of the difficulty lies." Men ask, "Am I to love a man who does not love me, nay, who may be utterly indifferent to me or even hate me?" In a question of this nature no arguments we might urge would dislodge the man of carnal mind from his stronghold of indifference. But to a man who accepts the teaching of Christ we must affirm His Divine testimony (Matthew 5:44-48). This interpretation of the royal law by the Master Himself settles at once, for those who acknowledge His authority, the degree and manner in which we are to love our neighbours, whether friends or enemies. Our love to our neighbour is to exhibit the same qualities, sincerity, constancy, activity, as the love which we cherish for ourselves. Attempts have been made to exclude the element of degree from the meaning of the words "as thyself," on the ground that, from the constitution of human nature, obedience to such a command is impossible. But it would need much weightier reasons to prove that this thought of degree was not intended in the terms of the royal law. What is it in our neighbour we have to love as ourselves? And this suggests another question — What is it in "thyself" that thou hast to love? In what sense and to what extent is a man to love himself? Many persons love to pamper themselves, to indulge themselves, to amuse themselves; but these are as far from loving themselves truly, as the night from the day. For a man to love himself, as the Scriptures teach, means that he loves the best that is in him. I cannot love myself as I ought unless I keep my body, with all its powers and passions, under; unless I keep conscience and Christ enthroned in my heart. All that is false, cruel, deceptive, oppressive, slanderous, and dishonourable, I must repudiate, if I would love myself as the royal law teaches. We are not required by this royal law to love the sinful, the offensive, the evil characteristics and dispositions in our neighbour, any more than we are required to love these things in ourselves. But I am to love my neighbour in regard to things affecting his moral and spiritual well-being, and concerning his character and destiny for eternity. I am to help my neighbour to attain these higher, and holier, and better ends of his being, as certainly as I desire to help myself in the acquisition of these aims. Now briefly glance at the similarity of manner which love to self and love to the neighbour should exhibit. I ought to love myself with a sincere, active, and constant love. In like manner I am to display these same qualities in the love of my neighbour. Observe the wisdom and beauty of this saying, and how it is employed as a guide to a higher moral life. Self-love is ever present with us; inordinate self-love is the cause of most of the excesses and sins of our life. Christ takes hold of this very self-love and makes it the occasion and means of rising into a juster love of others. He appeals to the solicitude that we have regarding our own health, business reputation, and the desire to avoid self-injury, to cherish similar feelings toward others. The same motives that influence us in these things with respect to ourselves are to operate on behalf of our neighbour. If we are eagerly solicitous for our own spiritual welfare — our growth in peace, holiness, and righteousness of living, this, then, is to be the guide as to the manner and extent of our love for the spiritual good of our fellow-men. Love them in these ways as thou lovest thyself.
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: