The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39
Jesus commanded that we love people. There’s a problem here. You can not love your neighbor if you don’t know how to do it. Christians must take time to discover how to love people in all spheres of society. Every relationship we have must come into alignment with God and His laws of love. This includes my marriage, my father daughter relationship, economic relationships of boss and worker or seller and buyer, education relationships of student and teacher, and yes even governmental relationships of citizen and representative.
You can not love your neighbor if you don’t know how to do it. I can’t operate in tyranny and be loving the people under my control.
Study the Bible on how to relate, and apply it to every relationship. The Kingdom of God will expand. The world will be different. .
I was processing the idea that you have to love everyone, but you don’t have to like them. This is true. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that the second greatest COMMANDMENT was that you love your neighbor as yourself. You are required to choose the highest good for all people at all times, but He never said anything about liking people. This is true. Though, I think it’s an immature excuse for being apathetically hateful or at least for being lazy in our general relationships.
The reality of life is that it is hard to like some people. I will say that we do not have to be in relationship with everyone. If that were so they would not be relationships. Relationships by their very nature are conditional. What does this mean practically? Well, you are not required to be close friends with everyone. You are actually allowed to choose your friends and spouse. Some people are bad choices because of the way they are currently living. Some people will never naturally come into our lives, and we shouldn’t be expected to meet everyone on the edges of our circle of influence.
BUT if you are regularly connected with someone you don’t like in your circles of influence, I think that part of loving that person is to relate with them under the same principles of relationships that we apply to our friends, love interest or partner. It is unloving to look at that person and declare to ourselves that we have to love them but not like them. Think about the person in your life? When you say that you don’t have to like them, is that any different from hate? When you hate someone you avoid them. You get annoyed when you see them. You laugh at them not when they tell jokes but when they once again make that noise or say that word again, and your eyes roll. This is what our declared dislike looks like too.
So the end of it all is this:
If you are in relationship with someone, you need to try to like them.
It doesn’t matter what the relationship is. I have a person in mind that God has been convicting me over. I work with her in a side job I have. I plan to keep you updated on her and my interactions with her. Hold me accountable, and take the challenge that I will be taking. I am committing right now to make efforts to like her.
How do we do this?
This may be the hardest step. It requires pushing past your emotions. It certainly will require humbling yourself and maybe being looked down upon as you step into a niceness toward them in front of your peers who also dislike the person.
Decide now to quit rolling your eyes when they talk or making a sound of disgust when they come near. Quit being short with them in conversation especially if they took the effort to initiate a conversation. Don’t participate in gossip or complaining about them. Don’t laugh at other’s negative comments about them.
This is required of all humans by God and by reality, but when you actually decide to love someone you will do a better job at it. Your conscience will show you whether you have been loving them or not.
Here is the thing in my life that has actually worked in changing my bad relationships into good ones. Several years ago I did not like a guy that I was around Monday through Friday. We seemed to fight about everything. He would so often make an absolute statement that I found completely wrong (even morally at times). I did not liking being near him, but I realized that I was in the wrong in this. I asked God to help me like him, and God told me to give him a dollar. I was very poor. :) I took one of my very few dollars, walked to his mail box and placed it inside. He never knew it was me. I don’t even know if he got it. What I do know is that my heart toward him changed. I began to see why he was valuable, and we became friends.
Marriage is simple. In fact, I think almost everything that matters in life is simple. Even the Bible and Christianity are simple. Politics and economics are very simple. The reason is because at the root of everything that matters is a defined relationship, and there is nothing complicated about relationships. The how-tos are built into us as children.
As children we wanted friends. Sometimes we approached someone the way Anne Shirley did and bluntly invited the person to be best friends. Usually, however, we just slowly became friends with other kids by spending time with them. In class we talked and sat by each other. At recess we ran and raced and tagged. We laughed and joked. We learned to only say the things that made people laugh.
Relationships ended when our feelings were hurt or if someone was mean to us. If they insulted us in front of people we avoided being around them. If they smelled bad we avoided them. If they were boring we found someone who was interesting. The people we chose to be friends with were the ones who made us feel good and were nice to us.
I am twenty-five years old. I’ve been married for almost seven years. I have a two year old girl, and my wife is pregnant with our second daughter. I’ve been a teacher in a Bible school for four years, and I still don’t like to be around smelly people. I will not hang out with people that insult me in front of others. I choose to spend time with the people that make me feel good. I talk to the people who laugh at my jokes and tell jokes that make me laugh. I make and break relationships the same way I did as a seven year old, and it is not selfish or wrong. It is not immature. The principles of relationships are just that simple and universal.
I plan to blog here about relationships. I’ll get really specific at times. Sometimes I will tell stories. I also want to hear and post your stories. Welcome to marriageissimple.com. I hope that we can help each other learn to relate to people and make our marriages not just last but be incredible.