It’s the greatest commandment in the Bible: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus calls us to love the people He’s surrounded us with, in the same way He calls us to love Him! In fact, the verse continues and goes on to say that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Loving your neighbor carries a lot of weight. It also poses the question of WHO. Who is your neighbor? Is it the person who lives beside you? Well, sure. But I believe loving your neighbor goes far beyond the people we often believe to be our neighbors.
Someone is your neighbor based on proximity. So perhaps your neighbor is the barista who takes your order every morning or the guy who sits in the cubicle next to you. Sometimes your neighbor is not someone who is based on routine proximity to you, but rather, an instant where God brings two of his creations together to become neighbors that love and care for one another.
Whatever “neighbor” looks like to you, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.
These 10 heartwarming stories will inspire you to love your neighbor as yourself today!
1. This police officer who adopted the baby of a drug addict AND didn’t give up on her sobriety.
Officer Ryan Holets is a father of four from Albuquerque, New Mexico. While out on patrol in September of 2017, Ryan came across a woman named Crystal Champ, and her companion Tom. When he found them, they were shooting up heroin behind a convenience store. Crystal was eight and a half months pregnant.
Concerned with the well-being of the unborn baby, Ryan tried to reason with Crystal. “You’re going to kill your baby,” he told her. The more they talked, the stronger Ryan felt God telling him to adopt Crystal’s baby.
“Tell her that you will do it,” he recalls “because you can.”
Three weeks later, Ryan and his wife became parents for the fifth time, when Crystal gave birth to a baby girl, fittingly named Hope.
But their story doesn’t stop there.
Rather than sending Crystal and Tom to jail for their drug use, Ryan used his own resources to help the two addicts get clean.
Over the last several months, both Crystal and Tom have undergone a 90-day rehabilitation program in which Tom has graduated and Crystal is on her way to graduating and getting back on her feet.
Ryan and his family are the very essence of what it means to love your neighbor.
2. These students who “neighbored” their peers.
In response to the ongoing gun violence, mass shootings, and savage deaths of students in the classroom, thousands of high schoolers across the country participated in National School Walkout Day this March.
While many think “walking out” is the answer to fighting school violence, one high school equipped with sticky notes and hearts for change chose to make a difference in their community by “walking up.”
Arbor Preparatory High School students were each given 17 sticky notes to symbolize the 17 lives lost in the most recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Arbor Prep students were encouraged to leave encouraging notes for 14 students and 3 adults.
“As I walked the halls I was overcome with pride for these kids,” Danielle Rae shared on Facebook. “Not a single locker was untouched and they took special care to ensure that everyone from admin to the tech guy and custodian received some love.”
When we love our neighbors, we fill hearts instead of letting hate and loneliness fester.
3. This barista who showed a hurting widow some much-needed love.
Being the strong wife and mother that she is, Diana Register often hid her deep pain and suffering from those around her. In the weeks and months following her husband’s cancer diagnosis, Diana would search for “hiding” places where she could let the uncontrollable waterfalls of painful tears flow from her eyes.
“The closet was a favorite. The shower. But when I wasn’t home, it was parking lots that became an asphalt covered oasis,” she writes.
After her husband passed away, parking lots were Diana’s safe haven for grief.
One day, as she was about to place her order in the Dutch Brothers coffee drive-thru, the wave of sadness hit her like a tidal wave in the middle of her conversation with a friend.
“I could barely catch my breath and the ugly crying started,” said Diana. “The problem was, I was stuck in the coffee line. At Dutch Brothers. The one place where all the workers are young, happy and jamming out to music. And there was no way out. I was literally blocked in, so unless I wanted to back right up into the SUV behind me, I was about to be seen for the mess I really was.”
The barista at the window handed Diana an iced coffee with a sweet and simple note scribbled on the top.
“When I looked down in the cup holder, I saw it. A pink straw, and the words ‘We love you’ written around it.”
The girl didn’t know Diana’s pain or her story, but she knew she was hurting and couldn’t fix it. The ironic thing about it is that in loving her neighbor, the barista was used by God to bring comfort that surpasses all understanding.
“She wanted me to know I wasn’t alone. And that whatever trial I was going through, that there were people out there who cared about me. That regardless of knowing all the details, they cared anyway.”
4. This woman whose heart broke for her homeless (and suicidal) neighbor in Burger King.
While running errands around Independence, Missouri, Katy Hurst decided to cruise through the drive-thru at her local Burger King.
As she pulled around to the pick-up window, Katy noticed a man with his head buried in his hands, sitting hopelessly inside the restaurant. Her heartfelt his brokenness, and without a second thought, she snapped a picture of him through the window, parked her car, and went inside to sit with him.
Katy soon found out his name was “Pops,” a homeless man in the area who was ready to give up. He told Katy that he was lonely and out of hope.
“He said, ‘I want it to end. I want it to go,’” Katy told 41 Action News. “That’s when I told him, ‘Today is not the day.’”
You better believe Katy went above and beyond to neighbor the heck out of Pops, who had a broken collarbone, broken ribs, and several other physical ailments from living on the streets.
She took the 57-year-old home, helped nurse him back to help, and started a fundraising campaign for his medical needs.
God breaks our hearts for what breaks His. Katy’s heart broke for Pops, and in loving her neighbor as herself, they both found joy and purpose that they never knew existed.