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.