'If you ignore your neighbour, you're ignoring God': Nine Bible verses on loving others



As Christians, wholeheartedly following Jesus' teaching means that to love our neighbour as ourself should be second nature. But this understanding doesn't always define our actions and attitudes towards our brothers and sisters.

During yesterday's Mass in St Peter' Square, Pope Francis said: "We cannot remain spectators before the suffering of so many people who are worn out by hunger, violence and injustice. What does ignoring the suffering of man mean? It means ignoring God!"

We don't automatically think that when we fail to acknowledge someone's suffering, we're ignoring God but this is in many ways true. When we overlook the suffering of our neighbours - even if they are distant neighbours - we overlook the love and compassion that we receive from God. If we accept that God loves us, then we're bound to showcase that same kind of love in our interactions with others. This is the way that our acceptance of his existence and what he's done for us should be outwardly expressed.

The close proximity that loving your neighbour has to the first and greatest commandment is evidence of its significance. It's one instruction that we can't afford to ignore.

Here are nine Bible verses to help us love our neighbour more:

Matthew 22:37-40 - Jesus replied: "'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 neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 7:12 - So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 13:10 - Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

John 14:15 - "If you love me, keep my commands."

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

1 John 2:10 - Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

1 John 3:17 - If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

Matthew 25:39-40 - "When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Ephesians 6:7-8 - Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.