Matithyah [Matthew] 22:39
39 "And a second like it is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
There is this false idea today, in which these words of Yeshua have been twisted to mean, that one is commanded to love himself. This is not anywhere near the truth. Yeshua did not say that, nor did He mean that one is to love himself before he can love his neighbor. Nor does it mean that one has to love himself or else he cannot love his neighbor. This false idea has spawned a whole generation which has grown up with this false teaching of having one focused upon loving oneself. This is not Scriptural in the least! So what did it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?
Let us briefly consider what has become known to us today as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Here are the last two verses of that parable.
36 "Which of these three, do you think proved to be a neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers?"
37 And he said, "He that showed mercy on him." And Yeshua said unto him, "Go, and you do likewise."
Yeshua fairly well answered that question when He was asked, "Who is my neighbor?" The answer Yeshua gave to answer that question was the story about the man who fell among thieves and was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Then a priest passed by and did nothing to help this man. After that a Levite passed by and did nothing to help this man. Both of these men took notice of the wounded man because they both went to the opposite side of the road. Then, finally, a Samaritan man passed by and he stopped and helped the man. Then he loaded him up and took him to the nearest inn.
There he arranged for care of this man until he was well enough to leave.
So who was the neighbor, Yeshua asks? The answer, of course: the man who helped him. So let us put the question in a slightly different form; the answer still will be the same, but with greater instructional value for us. "Which of these men loved his neighbor as himself?" The answer is, once again, that the Samaritan man showed true self-sacrificing love towards the man in need. The Samaritan man loved the man in need as he would himself if he was in that same need. This is what it means to love one's neighbor as oneself.
Simply put, to love one's neighbor as oneself means to meet the needs of my neighbor as they become known. For instance, if you are hungry, what do you do? You get something to eat. So if your neighbor is hungry, what are you going to do to show your love for him? Feed him! If you are cold, what are you going to do? You are going to put on a coat. If your neighbor is cold, but has no coat, what are you going to do to show your love for your neighbor? You will get a coat for him and put it on him so he will not be cold. Whatever the need that we have in ourselves, we will meet that need in our neighbor. Likewise, if we see a need in our neighbor, then in order to show our love for him, we must meet his need.
Years ago, a friend of my wife was in need during the winter. She was without heat in her house. She had the means to burn wood, but no wood to burn to heat her house. My sons and I cut a load of firewood and took it to her house, unloaded it, and stacked it for her. If we would have needed wood for our own house, this is what we would have done. To love my neighbor then, simply means that I needed to cut some wood for her because she was in a position in which she could not do this herself.
Ya'aqov [James] 2:15-16
15 If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food,
16 and one of you say to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled'; and yet you give them not the things needful to the body; what good does that do?