Do Unto Others

The great commandment of the Bible is to love. We are to love others as much, maybe even more than we love ourselves. Jesus Himself said:

“… in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

What does this mean in practice? Well, giving others the benefit of the doubt — do you want to be judged according to your worst day or behavior? It means trying to understand different points of view. Don’t you hate it when an acquaintance refuses to even listen to the reasoning behind your ideas? It means being compassionate and slow to become angry. I mess up plenty of times and need forgiveness, not censure, don’t you?

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, FRS (13 December 1815 – 18 July 1881), and English Anglcan priest and church historian puts it this way:

“Love one another in spite of your differences, in spite of your faults. Love one another, and make the best of one another, as He loved us, who for the sake of saving what was good in the human soul, forgot, forgave, put out of sight what was bad–who saw and loved what was good even in the publican Zacheus, even in the penitent Magdalen, even in the expiring malefactor, even in the heretical Samaritan, even in the Pharisee Nicodemus, even in the heathen soldier, even in the outcast Canaanite. It is very easy to fix our attention only on the weak points of those around us, to magnify them, to irritate them, to aggravate them; and by so doing, we can make the burden of life unendurable, and can destroy our own and others’ happiness and usefulness wherever we go. But this was not the love wherewith Christ loved us; this is not the new love wherewith we are to love one another.”

When we love in this way, we are blessed, and we become a blessing to others.

 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing “1 Peter 3:8-10

For more on this topic see:

Little Children, Love One Another

Charity = Love

By Our Love

If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk by John Pavlovitz–Book Review

I could write a book about why I don’t agree with this book, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time or space to do that. I was disappointed, because I actually think there are many times when every Christian (including me) acts like a jerk, and needs to be reminded that the great commandment, the one that sums up all the others is: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. However, this author takes a simplistic approach, seeming to believe that there are only two kinds of Christians: those who “love” others by accepting just about any sort of behavior, and those who prefer to “judge” others and consign them to Hell. All of those law-oriented, judgemental Christians also voted for Donald Trump, are racist (even if they don’t realize it), dislike immigrants, idolize the United States and believe that God is an old, white man.

Sponsored Ad - If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans

I don’t fit into either of Pavlovitz’s categories. As a conservative Lutheran, I have always been told that good teaching must include both law and gospel. The law shows us we are all sinners, and the gospel gives us the good news that we can be forgiven. God is loving, but He is also just. It’s not an either-or situation, but a balance– and yes, there are individual Christians and denominations that err on one side or the other.

I believe that the Mr. Pavlovitz has sincerely wrestled with faith questions, and since he states that no proof texts will change his mind, I’m puzzled about how to counter his claims. He does not accept the Bible as the foundation or final authority, but relies on his personal experience of God. Yet, he himself uses the Bible as the starting point for his assertion that we are to love one another. Isn’t this a contradiction? As we are made in God’s image, the author believes we are basically good. Yet, if we go by experience, my experience is that my default setting is sin, not holiness. In fact, if we are basically good, why do we need to be told not to be jerks?

Another issue I have with this book is the use of profanity. Pavlovitz actually notes and defends such language as being more “authentic” and a way of removing the “mask” most of us wear. I believe that being courteous and avoiding offensive words is part of being loving and setting a good example for others.

On the plus side, I certainly agree that we should be open to cultivating relationships with others who are different in some way. When we do so, we find that our skin color, political party or denomination are not as important as learning to know and appreciate one another as human beings. I also learned a new word that I liked — orthopraxy, which I now know is correct conduct, as opposed to orthodoxy which is correct belief.

VERDICT: 1 STAR. Not very edifying.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more book reviews see these posts:

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell–Book Review

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution by Tony Merida–Book Review

Who Do You Serve?

Let’s be honest, ladies, we all serve somebody.  So who do you serve?  I suspect the answer for most of us is “myself.”  That’s not only our sinful inclination, it’s what our world tells us to do.  “Look out for number one.”  “Follow your bliss.”  “Do what feels right for you.”  Our culture bombards us with messages like this every day.  Let’s label it with its’ true name –SELFISHNESS.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this sin every day.  Here are a few examples:

My husband forgets to pick up the something I needed on his way home from work.  My default response?  How could he!  I do so many things for him, and he can’t remember this one thing for ME?

My daughter calls and asks me to go to the Dollar Store and pick up something for her class (she is a preschool teacher). She lost track of time and didn’t get to it last night.  REALLY?  What makes this MY responsibility?  I have my own plans for the morning.

Somebody from church calls.  We’re selling  cobblers at the local Peach Festival and need somebody to work at the stand.  OH NO!  I’m an introvert and I’M JUST NOT COMFORTABLE around a crowd of strangers.  Don’t ask me to do that.

My friend is totally uninterested in the new project in which I’m so involved.  She’s MY friend,why isn’t she being more supportive of ME?

Anyway, you get the idea.  My first response is to think of myself, what I want, and what seems most comfortable and convenient for me.  Here’s what Jesus says about that:

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

That means our priorities should go like this:

  1. God
  2. Others
  3. Me

This doesn’t mean we can never say no.  Sometimes we must say no;  sometimes it is better for the other person if we say no;  sometimes we need to say no because something is definitely out of our skill set. It also doesn’t mean we don’t hold folks accountable or express our feelings — but we need to do this in a gentle, respectful way, not in anger.  It does mean that as God’s servants, we can’t allow a selfish mindset to control our actions.  Following our own impulses (i.e. serving ourselves) will lead to conflict and broken relationships.  Serving God and doing His will leads to peace with God and others. So who do you want to serve?