One collective action would bring instant and lasting world peace and prosperity, yet it’s been impossible to achieve in all of human history: Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it. All the wars, all the blood, all the sorrow and anguish would be erased with this attitude and action. Attempting to figure out why we can’t do it is a tedious exercise best left for moments of deep reflection. We are only able to control first what we do, but what we do can have a big influence on those around us.
According to Richard Whatley, a British theologian, “A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.” Loving your neighbor goes far beyond peering over the fence. To love your neighbor means to serve our communities by giving back what we receive—an ongoing flow of goodwill. There are lots of ways we can truly love our neighbors. Here are 5 of them.
1. Be generous.
There are many things we can give away and all but one of them are free. Our time, talents, kindness, compassion, joy, and prayers are all free-flowing and meant not for hoarding but for sharing. We should be generous with our material wealth as well, even when it is small.
2. Be ethical.
If a man gains the whole world but loses his soul, what has he gained? Many men will lie, cheat, beg, steal, or borrow to gain more. Most of the conflicts in history have their roots in this trap. To be a man of high ethics requires a willingness to sacrifice personal material gain when that type of success crosses the lines of morals and human dignity. Set high standards and stay true to them.
3. Be fair.
Judge all things and people honestly. We aren’t to show partiality to a poor man just because of his station, but the same applies to a rich man. Only a person’s character should determine what judgment we render. Be fair in all you do.The kindness that transfers to others when we genuinely smile at them has tremendous influence.
4. Be kind.
Sometimes, one of the most difficult things to do is smile. We are surrounded by hate, bitterness, jealousy, envy, and violence. How are we supposed to smile? But the kindness that transfers to others when we genuinely smile at them has tremendous influence. Kindness and compassion are two of the most powerful weapons. Use them daily.
5. Be peaceful.
We’ve all held grudges; we’ve all held anger inside of us. We may have even plotted revenge at one point or another in life. But these things exude negativity and create ongoing conflict. Forgive. Let it go. Daily, I get on my knees in prayer and, in doing so, I not only ask that I’m forgiven for the things I’ve done, but I pledge to forgive those who have done harm to me. My life is not trouble-free by any means, but my soul is at peace.
Sound off: What are some ways you can be intentional in loving your neighbors?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to love our neighbors?”