Our love for others is the rule by which we are measured. If our faith doesn’t make us care about the needs and rights of other people, then we are far short of true Christianity. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” wrote the apostle John.
When Jesus gave this rule to the people who gathered to hear Him, He was repeating one of the old laws given by Moses. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Moses had said.
This means we are to put ourselves in the other person’s place. How would we feel if someone spoke angrily to us? Even if we had done something wrong, would an angry voice make us want to apologize? We would be more likely to apologize if the person we had wronged spoke kindly to us.
If we speak kindly to those who wrong us, they are more likely to be sorry for what they did. In this way, we can turn enemies into friends.
How should we treat someone who looks different from us, or who dresses or talks differently? We would want people to be friendly and patient with us, if we were different from them, so we should be friendly to them.
If we are God’s children, we will never make fun of someone who has less money, or is a different color, or speaks a different language, or has more trouble studying, or who is old and slow. We wouldn’t want anyone to make fun of us. And we won’t go along with anyone else who makes fun of people, either.
Instead, we will go out of our way to make friends with the person who is made fun of, just as Jesus did when He was on earth.
God gave the prophet Zechariah a message to tell people how to treat others.
“Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion,” the prophet said. “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart.”
“With the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you,” Jesus told the people. That means we will be treated in the same way we treat others.
If we are kind, we will receive kindness.
If we make fun, criticize and push people around, that is just the kind of treatment we will receive.
When we get up on the “wrong side of the bed in the morning, and feel irritable, depressed and out of sorts, that is the time it is most important to smile and give a cheerful greeting to everyone — at home, on the way to school, and in the classroom. It is amazing how we can cheer ourselves up by acting cheerful.
And it is surprising how many smiles we will get in return. By sincerely trying to make others happy, we will make ourselves happy.
If we love others as ourselves, we will want to help them whenever they are in need. Jesus taught that a neighbor is anyone who needs our help. This could be someone who lives on the other side of the world, and is suffering because of an earthquake or famine or war. It could be someone down the street whose house has burned down, or whose parents have lost their jobs. It could be a student in class who needs help with a certain subject.
If we were suffering like these people, what would we want? We would want food, clean water, shelter, warm clothes, or someone to help us learn. We can give money, clothes and food to be sent to disaster areas. We can take a hot dish of food or a warm pair of gloves to the family down the street who just lost everything they own. We can study with the student who is having
a hard time.
When we do such things we are treating others as we would want to be treated. And we are acting like Christians and children of God.
What we give to help others is never lost. If we help people because they need help, and not just to be praised, God will repay us. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over,” Jesus promised. And His promises never fail.
But if we do good deeds just to look good and not because we care about the person we help, Jesus warned, “You have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
The gift we receive from God is better than getting back the money and goods we give away. We receive more and more of His love.
One of the best ways to love other people is to tell them how God loves them. If we didn’t know about His love, how He made us, died for us and is planning
a special home for us, wouldn’t we want someone to tell us? The more we learn about Jesus and His love, the more we need to tell others so they can know the same happiness we do.