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Seeking Things Above

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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Why don't I love my neighbor?

Mark 12:28-31 (ESV)
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?"
29 Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
I found out this morning that a co-worker and acquaintance had died last night.  He was relatively young, mid-forties, but he had been fighting a relapse of melanoma  since April.

I remember when I heard he was sick in April that I felt I needed to call him and see if there was anything I could do.  So I called him and asked how he was holding up, and let him know that I would be praying for him.  What a nice thing to do.  Brownie points for me somewhere, right?

I did pray for him, for a few days.  Then he did not cross my mind again until I heard the news of his death this morning.

It occurs to me, if I was battling cancer, I would be praying everyday for myself.  Why?  Because I love myself and I know I need God just to get through a normal day without disease and sickness hovering over me.

Why did I not pray for this co-worker every day?  Why did I completely forget about him and his struggles?  The only thing I can come up with is I did not love him enough to keep him in my prayers.  I did not love him as much as I love myself.

I want to love others like myself.  Why can't I do it?  Why does it always come back to being all about me?

Romans 7:15 (ESV)
15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Do you ever struggle with self-absorption?  Do you ever find yourself so wrapped up in your own problems that loving God and loving others gets lost in the busyness.

Thankfully, God does not have this same struggle.  He loves me in spite of me.

Romans 8:1 (ESV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


kpasa said...

Thanks for your comment. Thank you especially for your prayer for the Lord to give me the right words of encouragement for my friends as they grieve.

Shawie said...

I think the biggest challenge I had on my spiritual journey is how to love my enemy:( How to forgive despite the pains he caused me and how to move on without battling with the demons of revenge and anger... time heals but it's always hard to get balance without being dragged from an emotional trap...

carol said...

What a sad but honest story. I am very careful not to say I will pray for you if I don't intent to. Your post is challenge to remain faithful to pray as time going by.

Thanks be to God, that He is always faithful and He will mature us to be like Him in this area also.

Brad said...

Tony, I have really been enjoying your blog. Your thoughts are honest and precise.

I have always struggled with loving others at least as much as I love myself or maybe at least half as much. I think this is something many, perhaps more men than women, if they are honest, fail at. Miss the mark God has set in love.

Recently I have been praying about this, especially as it relates to people I don't know, those who cross my path perhaps never to see again, those who I meet at the store or at work or at church, those who can't give me anything I want or need in return. It is easy to love those who provide me with things I want or need. Yes sounds selfish – I know it is. I have been praying, along with a few others who I have shared this with, that God would put real action oriented love in my life. Not self-forced love, planned and setup, but real authentic immediate genuine reaction of love. A deeper and real sense of concern, sympathy, and love for people who can do nothing (as I see it) for me. I don't know if I am expressing myself well here but I can relate with your experience and your sincere question "Why don't I love my neighbor?” I desire to …

Tony said...

Shawie - I could say all the right Christian things about how we should forgive others because God forgave us all the way to the cross. However, I know that does not make the hurt go away and make forgiveness any easier. The only real answer to to keep taking it to Jesus. He'll heal the pain and provide the forgiving heart but it can take time. That's why He says to keep on knocking. Which brings me to my next struggle below...

Carol -

I struggle in persistent prayer, even for those I love. My brother doesn't know Jesus. Yet I am hot and cold on my praying for him. I think what I need to do more is listen when I pray. God is probably ready to place everyone on my heart He wants me to pray for. I'm just too busy or too rushed to listen.

Brad - I hear you brother. It sounds like you love more than you know. Half the battle is the desire.

steve martin said...

We can't love others as we love ourselves (especially our enemies), because we are sinners, and basically concerned with 'the self'.

But, who did He come for? Sinners!

I qualify.


- Steve Martin

Tony said...

Steve -

At least there's hope in the cross.

Thanks for coming by brother.


Anonymous said...

Great post, this shows you are truly attempting to live your life in accordance with the will of God. An important note I would add is that you do not stop praying for him once h/she has died. God is outside of time and can reach people in any time. He/she may need your prayers as much now as ever.

Tony said...

Thanks. I do have to ask about the praying for the dead if you happen to stop by again.


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