You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the
scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
We have heard these words all of our lives. Some form of the principle of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is found in every religious tradition. Even more than a theological concept, it is a humanitarian response. This simply means that loving our neighbor is really what it means to be human. In other words, it is something natural to us, something that characterizes how we are meant to be.
On an individual level, it really doesn't take much effort to reach out to uplift another's spirit. And, on a corporate level, it isn't difficult to find worthy causes that need our contribution of time, presence, and energy. Being a good neighbor—loving our neighbor as we love ourselves—isn't hard to figure out.
The spiritual challenge comes when we are so narrow in our own habits, our own views, our own patterns that we cease to feel the respect and sheer admiration for others that we have been graced by God to feel. When that is compromised, our spiritual life shrinks.
When we live out of the love and generosity that God has so abundantly given us, we are able to live harmoniously with anyone who shares our humanity; no matter what walk of life they are from, no matter what habits, views, or patterns define them.
Here's an experiment. The next time you find yourself having difficulty loving your neighbor as yourself, visualize the other person as a cloned mock-up of yourself. What response would you give then? What word would you share? What feelings would you want to encourage? What sensitivity would you offer?
In truth, the full gift of our own humanity is experienced only when we are able to rejoice in the humanity of others.
Gracious God, let my eyes and heart be so open to others that I see them through your eyes of love.
Copyright ©2009 Cleophes Carter, Jr.