To walk in the footsteps of another. To listen without thinking about myself. To hear, and not project my feelings into what my brother is saying. To feel what he feels, to see what he sees, to live what he is living, this is loving my neighbor.
To give space for humanness to someone who sins against me. To give grace for healing for those who don’t know. To give love without being asked to. This is loving my neighbor.
To rejoice with one who is rejoicing, to remember what celebration feels like at that time. To cry when someone is crying, to recall that pain is not mine alone. To hold when someone is falling apart, to know I have been held together as well. This is loving my neighbor.
To see beyond the surface, and be willing to wait for it to arise. To have time for the broken hearted, and to be there for the lonely, so they won’t have to be alone. To understand beyond my perspective, and admit credibility to one different than mine. This is loving my neighbor.
To share my strengths with another, and not be afraid to borrow his for my weakness. To submit to the folly of being vulnerable, rather than acting like I have it all together. To admit I am a sinner, too. This is loving my neighbor.
These are the things that make us followers of Christ. It is not the church we attend, or the people we hang out with. It is not the acceptance we find, or the things we gain from knowing others who profess the same faith. Nor is it an answer to a Bible question that no one else knew which makes us wise. Wisdom is found in the love of neighbor, in the loss of self, and in the gain of eternal life.
James said, “show me your faith, and I will show you my works”. I think he meant show me the results. I do not think he meant that if you couldn’t recall results, you didn’t really have faith. You see, so much of what is found above will not yield results that are visible. But, the love that forgets me for just a moment always remembers Jesus, and when that happens, GOOD results will always occur. The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the love of neighbor as oneself. And in our example of Christ, we find a multitude of grapes hanging on to the vine.
Jesus did all of the above. He came and lived life from our perspective. Can we do the same for our neighbor, without asking “who is our neighbor?” The works will follow, and we may be aware of nary a one. Nevertheless, the grape grows on the vine even when we cannot see it grow, so we know it grows regardless of our awareness.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Good commandment.