COVID fear has tainted human relations with acidity. Add to this the generally accepted practice of “me first”, and results are anger, loathing, and hateful behavior toward one another.
Today I called to make tee-times for my wife and me at our favorite golf course. We are going for our anniversary and want it to be memorable. We had a special request for which courses we wanted to play; they have three. The person we spoke with was less than helpful and downright rude. My first reaction was to respond in a like manner. Fortunately, my desire to hang up was quicker than my sharp retort and hateful response.
John 13: 34-35 “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
“A new command I give you: Love one another.” A new command. This was written over 2000 years ago, yet we could read it today as a “new command.” Society is hateful; from the political polarization to pandemic paranoia, brotherly love is missing. In school kids are given trophies just for showing up, emphasizing their winning over performance. We are taught to look out for number one because no one else will. Take, before you can be taken; grab the brass ring before the other guy, and etcetera. Loving one another is painfully absent in our daily reality.
When I am feeling self-centered, for example wanting to satisfy my perceived needs instead of my wife’s needs first, my satisfaction is lessened. For I know I have selfishly put myself first.
If we dwell on the things we haven’t gotten out of life, we can become bitter. Life can be hard. With Jesus’ command fresh in our mind, look at the one thing that can make life pleasant—our relationships. Are they just for our benefit or do we care, deep down, about those we encounter? My guess? We want to be a blessing to others.
Even to those who are not our friends. It’s hard to love those “unlovable” ones. On our own, we cannot “make” ourselves love our enemies. But, loving Jesus and wanting to embrace a Christlike life, allows the Holy Spirit to guide our emotion if we let it. Life can become so much more worthwhile and peaceful.
“As I have loved you, so must you love one another.” Jesus wants us to copy His perfect love—impossible! This command would not have been spoken if He wasn’t sure we could do it. Bear that in mind. Put other people first in a relationship. Understand that true love means always wanting what’s best for them. All people, not just friends.
When we put ourselves in second place, leaving those we encounter in the first place, we can empathize with their desires. Dropping our agenda of me-first in favor of the needs of others frees us up to get along and even embrace those around us. Even, be a blessing. We don’t have to get our way in everything.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus is looking for us to “shine the light” of love to a cruel, self-centered world. He wants people to look at our behavior and see that we are different! Christians don’t always portrait Christ-like behaviors. Jesus wants our love for others to be a beacon, so bright, that even those in the darkest of places can see.
As we go through the day, stop now and then to contemplate this command. As we look at the people we interact with, consciously determine to show them Christ’s loving-kindness. Seek to meet whatever needs they have, putting yourself second. Recap the day in your head or a journal and note what happened, how it made you feel. Loving Christ means loving others. When we begin to notice our behaviors with others, our lives take on a mantle of peace.