Do you love others as yourself? No offence, but I doubt that you do. I am a long way from achieving this ideal, and I believe that not more than one in a million people loves others as they should. There is some goodness in everyone; however, compared to God, we are nothing but miserable sinners.
We can easily deceive ourselves in this matter. We may act very nice. People may call us good and we may believe that we are. However, there is a big difference between acting nice and being truly good.
Most little children are blatantly self-centred and they speak their minds. Generally, they don’t worry much about other people’s needs or feelings. As they mature, most people learn to be more considerate of others and to act nicer, especially to those outside of their immediate families. They do so, largely because they learn that it is to their advantage to gain the goodwill of others. However, underneath their “nicer” facades, almost all of them remain largely self-centered.
It is easy to say that we love God and to think that we love others. It’s easy to give a little of our time or a little our money to worthy causes, as long as we’ve got lots to spare. It’s easy to profess love for humanity but not really care about the individuals in our daily lives. Usually, we are “good” only in trifles or only to the extent that we believe it will benefit us.
It’s time that we become honest with ourselves. What do we secretly think about others, especially those who annoy, frustrate or offend us? Do we plot revenge? Do we enjoy spreading or listening to negative gossip? Are we secretly glad when others experience misfortune? Are we envious when they do well? Do we take advantage of or mistreat those who are weaker?
God doesn’t command us to like everyone or to always be “nice.” God commands us to love, that is, to care about others. Sometimes, that requires tough love. It means that often we have to say no and admonish others. We must help others become better people, not enable them to better practice their selfishness. Sometimes we need to give others a hand out; sometimes we need to tell them to get a job. Generally, we should be sensitive to other people’s feelings (nice); however, sometimes we need to say what we really think (tough love).
It takes wisdom and courage to properly love others. But, most importantly, it takes desire. My New Year’s resolution is that I will, by God’s grace, love others as myself.