Galatians 5:14 tells us: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Wouldn’t it be nice?
What a different world this would be if everyone treated their fellow Earthlings the way they themselves would like to be treated.
The wife and I were driving somewhere back in December, and another motorist did something I considered stupid and careless; and so I called him a derogatory name. Something that included a bit of colorful language and ended with the word, “moron.”
This was right in the middle of the end-of-year holiday season, the time of peace and love and goodwill to all men; and as soon as I said the words, I realized how un-Christmas-like I sounded.
I said to my wife:
“Boy, I love my fellow man, don’t I?”
We both laughed, but I also made a vow right then and there to say, from then on, “Merry Christmas!” to my brothers and sisters who make bone-headed moves behind the wheel and nearly kill me, instead of spewing my regular colorful phrases that usually end with the word moron.
I posted my vow soon after that on Facebook, and people questioned how long my good intentions would actually last.
They were right. It did not last long.
Treating others as you would wish to be treated.
In the book of Matthew 25:35-40, the word tells us that Jesus himself said:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
How many times have you seen a person standing at a busy intersection somewhere, holding a sign, asking for help? I see it quite a bit, especially when I am in larger cities.
Do I feel compassion? Maybe a little empathy and concern? Do I hand them a little spare change, remembering that message from Matthew?
Rarely. OK, maybe never.
And most of the time, to be honest, these pitiful-looking folks probably deserve neither my compassion nor my hard-earned money.
But what if they do?
What would Jesus want me to do?
In Hebrews 13:2, the verse reads: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
I think the idea is simple.
What I try to remember is that although people can look very different on the outside, come from wildly different backgrounds, education levels, socioeconomic circumstances and so forth, we are all pretty much the same inside.
There is something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological model of what motivates people and their actions.
According to the American psychologist Abraham Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970), all people share five basic needs:
Although I have been in some fairly dire circumstances over the years, I have never been truly homeless – although I was really close a couple of times – and I definitely know what it is like to struggle.
I am blessed, far more than I deserve. And there have been a number of times when I have benefitted from a helping hand.
Sometimes, I forget that.
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