The Meaning of Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

Published on: May 13, 2022 (Updated on: April 22, 2024)

love your neighbour as yourself

While the 10 commandments in the bible are popularly known to Christians to be important, the need to Love your neighbour as yourself was stipulated by Jesus to be the second greatest commandment in the bible. If you are wondering what it means to love your neighbour as yourself, you are not the only one to have pondered what it means and I will explain its meaning in this post.

The story behind 'love your neighbour as yourself' ❤️

In those days, Jesus spoke authoritatively on various subjects such that many people who thought they were wise often found their ignorance manifesting when conversing with him. One day, a law expert wanted to test Jesus and asked him what the greatest commandment is. Jesus answered him as follows:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew Chapter 22, verses 37-40, New International Version (NIV).

Again in John 13: 34-35, Jesus commands as follows:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13, verses 34-35, NIV.

The requirement to love your neighbour as yourself similarly appears in Mark 12, verse 31. The law expert, (referred to in the book of Mark as a law teacher) replied to Jesus as follows:

You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Mark 12, verses 32-33, NIV.

What it means to love your neighbour as yourself

In Luke Chapter 10, Jesus explains who one's neighbour is. The law expert asked Jesus who his neighbour is and Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan.

Story of the good Samaritan

A man on his way to Jericho from Jerusalem was attacked by robbers who stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be walking down the road and he saw the victim but passed by on the other side.  A Levite also passed by him and walked away on the other side. But a Samaritan travelling down the same road pitied the victim and decided to help him.  He went to the victim and closed his wound with a bandage. Then he put the victim on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he took care of him.

After telling the parable, Jesus then asked the law expert which of the three men who saw the victim after he was robbed and beaten was his neighbour. The law expert replied that it was the one who helped him and Jesus told him to do likewise

Accordingly, to love your neighbour as yourself means to be willing to help and care for people who might be in need of your help or support. The priest and the Levite who walked pass the victim might have had their reasons for refusing to help. Perhaps they had stereotyped the victim as a vile person who probably got what he deserved from some criminal activities. Such stereotypes are quite common in society. Loving your neighbour as yourself means putting all stereotypes aside and doing the will of God.

Importance of 'love your neighbour as yourself' in the modern day

The consumer protection laws in many countries in the world today are based on the commandment to love your neighbour as yourself. It started in the Scottish case of Donoghue vs Stevenson [1932] AC 562.

Brief facts of the 'love your neighbour as yourself principle' in Donoghue vs Stevenson

In the Donoghue vs Stevenson case, someone had bought his friend a ginger beer. The ginger beer bottle was opaque so it was hard to see the content. The friend took the ginger beer and at some point she noticed a decomposed snail while pouring the remaining content of the bottle into a cup. She fell ill and subsequently sued the manufacturer of the drink. One of the issues the court had to decide was whether the manufacturer of the drink owed a duty of care to the woman considering that she herself did not pay for the drink.

The court reiterated the commandment to 'love your neighbour as yourself' from the bible and went further to state that the requirement to love your neighbour as yourself extends to owing a duty of care to people who could be reasonably affected by your action.

The decision in Donoghue vs Stevenson was a landmark decision in the law of negligence and was what consequently gave way to the development of consumer protection laws in many countries today by holding manufacturers liable for injuries caused by their products in many cases. The decision was made by the UK House of Lords, now the Supreme Court and it highlights how powerful the commandment to love your neighbour as yourself is.

You might also be interested in the meaning of the trinity in Christianity.


Michael Akerele