9/30/2004

AGAIN, LOVING MY NEIGHBOR?

Love your neighbor as yourself. Several days ago, I wrote on this commandment. I have been thinking about this more and more, especially as the situation with my daughter became more prevalent. I’d like to talk about it again.

It is interesting to me how much emphasis Jesus placed on this commandment. He said it is the second greatest commandment, next to loving God with our all. Yet He told us that this commandment, along with the greatest commandment, was the foundation of the entire law. I take that to mean if we love our neighbor as if he is us, we are fulfilling, through Christ, the entire law. But there’s so much more to consider.

Take, for example, sin. Why do we sin? Because we are selfish. Currently, there are many in the body of Christ who do not believe we are selfish. Yet if we were able to step back, and observe ourselves, with the thoughts of our minds being played out on a TV screen, how could we ever deny our own selfishness? Is it so simple to say that we sin because we are selfish?

Maybe not, but for the sake of this post, let’s keep things simple, and leave our sin at the tree of selfishness, and work from there. One thought that has occurred to me over and over these last several years is the fact that we think mainly about ourselves. I have never done a study or taken a poll of thoughts to see the results, but I do not think I’d be misleading anyone if I said that possibly as much as ninety-five percent of all our thoughts are completely about ourselves. I know for sure this has been true of me.

Can this kind of thought process gel with loving our neighbor as ourselves? I think it is impossible for it to be so. If I am to love my neighbor as if he is me, I have to step inside of his circumstances, and try to think about what he is thinking about. Part of what has been breaking me so deeply this past week and a half has been the ability to think the thoughts of my daughter, to try and put myself in her position, and think of how I would feel. Truly, that breaks my heart every time I do it.

This has helped me to be gentle with her, and more willing to respond to her with my ear than my mouth. I find myself smiling at her more, and being more playful. In essence, I find myself being more childlike.

If I love my neighbor as if he is me, would I find myself more apt to sin against him? Let me say this as compellingly as I can. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to sin against my neighbor if I truly love him as if he is me. Therefore, not only am I not apt to sin against him, but I am apt to do good for him, and to him.

How important am I? Must I “find” myself? Or must I lose myself? Loving my neighbor as myself is the key to losing my life for Jesus.

Let me encourage you today, somehow, to step back from an encounter with someone, and try to think their thoughts. Try to feel what they might be feeling. Try to put yourself into their circumstances. Literally, walk a mile in their shoes. If you have done that, then see how willing you are to put yourself before them, and sin against them. I think you might find that for some people you encounter, you are going to cry silent tears, so touched by their circumstances and heart you will be.

How do you think someone’s thoughts, and feel someone’s feelings? That is very simple to do. While we are all very different, we are all very similar in several ways. We all feel emotions, each of us the same ones. We all respond very similarly to many certain situations. What hurts one person is usually bound to hurt another. What makes one person feel JOY will usually make another feel it as well. It is not all that difficult to try and feel what they feel, especially if we are loving them enough to ask them how life is at the moment. Be prepared, you may be there for a while. I think loving our neighbor means we don’t wear watches.

5 comments:

Beloved said...

This is an awesome awesome quote Tom... Let me encourage you today, somehow, to step back from an encounter with someone, and try to think their thoughts. Try to feel what they might be feeling. Try to put yourself into their circumstances. Literally, walk a mile in their shoes. If you have done that, then see how willing you are to put yourself before them, and sin against them. I think you might find that for some people you encounter, you are going to cry silent tears, so touched by their circumstances and heart you will be.

The "crying silent tears" makes my heart ache, as I think it describes the intimacy that God wants us to come to His feet in prayer for those He places in our path. So, not only do we need to lose our watch like you said, but we could also better serve our neighbors while we are in our prayer closet in intercession over them and their lives.

Awesome awesome post! I know I need to be so much better at losing myself for Jesus, and not only to the ones who seem obvious in need, but for those who I sometimes dismiss.

Tom Reindl said...

Monica, I am glad you found encouragement from this post. You know, the hardest thing I find with thinking my neighbor's thoughts, and feeling his feelings, is just to remember to do it. Once I do it, it always ends up with me praying for him, because I find that I can't handle what I am feeling, whether it be joy or sadness.

Yesterday I was driving behind a guy who was towing a trailer full of stones, uncovered, on the highway. I was becoming irritated, because these stones were hitting my car. As I was passing him, I remembered to put myself in his place, to be him, and I suddenly realized that this guy might be hoping that the stones aren't flying off his triler and hitting another's car. In fact, I realized he might just be trying to get home as fast as he can so that he doesn't have to worry about it anymore. Simple thoughts, but really, they made me aware of how I would feel, and I had to pray that he make it home safe, and be protected from road rage, and a whole host of other things. It is the Holy Spirit within us that will enable us to do this.

I am thinking about including a chapter on loving our neighbors in my book, because grace, and loving our neighbors go hand in hand. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, sister. Good Hope to you.

BruceD said...

Yes, we are selfish (sinful) and as long as we're in these bodies, we will continue to be. But we have to believe that Jesus himself covers us and consumes all of our sinfulness before the Father. Father only sees Jesus where we stand. What an awesome gift!

And what's even more wonderful is that the work Father and Son did on that cross, frees us not only from sin itself, but more importantly (I think), frees us from the guilt and shame that sin produces in our hearts. It's that guilt and shame that blocks the pure love of the Father from flowing out of us. But to be free, is to find ourselves in the midst of Father's work. We can now participate in His wondrous plan! We are free to walk along side Him as He touches lives all around us! Can life be an better than that?

Yippie!!!

Tom Reindl said...

Hello Bruce!! Thank you. You always have this way of putting things into perspective. You know, loving my neighbor I think is an active response to His love for me. It's proof positive of His love, for it would take twenty mountains full of love to move me to even think about someone other than myself. Yippeee is right!! Hey, I hope you guys have fun with your get together tomorrow. I do wish I could be there, but I am trying not to be a malcontent.

job opportunitya said...

Delightful blog. I devote my spare time just
looking for great blogs such as yours. I treasure this
site and will go back!
If your look to uncover information, please visit my blog