We see these words in Leviticus 19:18 – God tells us:
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Can you think now how many statutes are required because we have left this commandment behind? If we have compassion on our neighbour, as we would hope he would have on us, many statute laws of man would not be required. Harassment from loud music – not a thing anymore. Anti-social behaviour? Gone. All kinds of pain and suffering could be alleviated by this simple law – but only if we applied it.
When we don’t slam the door at 6 a.m. on our way to work we do it because we don’t want to wake the neighbours – that’s just the kind of consideration we all need to have. Don’t light that bonfire when the wind is blowing towards your neighbour’s washing – pretty simple. It also extends to how we treat our environment – litter laws, and pollution laws, not leaving an engine idling for long periods – all these things are covered simply under that one commandment, yet instead we have thousands of regulations which are in place instead (and, note, rarely applied).
That commandment also encompasses more than just consideration, it includes the way we correct and rebuke our neighbours too! Love is not license, it’s pointing out things which are wrong, with love, and expecting better.
David says, and I love this psalm so much, in psalm 141:5:
Let the righteous strike me;
It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me;
It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it.
For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.
Yes, absolutely! Rebuke me and I shall grow wiser still! How beautifully humble David is!
Let us love our neighbours, resolve disputes and keep government out of our lives – if only we kept the law of God!