No series on ‘Living out Love’ would be complete without talking about the Golden Rule. That’s why Heather Hart is giving us three practical ways to love others as ourselves.
Do Unto Others: 3 Practical Ways to Love Others as Ourselves
by Heather Hart
Do you have a life verse? One of my friends talks about her life verse all the time. She comments how it resurfaces time and again, but I have never claimed one as my own. If I really stop to think about it though, Luke 6:31 is the verse that has impacted and shaped my life the most. You are probably familiar with the paraphrase, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
God impressed that verse on my heart years ago. And for years I have worked to implement it in my life. But God recently showed me that it goes even deeper than thoughts and reactions…
Her Name Was Kelsey
She stood in the back of the church, bold and nervous all at the same time. She was new. She was late. She wasn’t sure she belonged. Wires were crossed and I was suddenly awkwardly standing there next to her completely confused about why I was there. And then we were alone.
Before I move forward, you need to know that I am an introvert and absolutely horrible at small talk. It was suddenly my responsibility to make this young woman feel welcomed and loved, and I felt completely unqualified. In the back of my mind Luke 6:31 surfaced.
What if the shoes were reversed?
If I were on the other end of this awkward engagement, how would I want this to play out? I could either parade her up to the front of the church where my family was sitting, or find a quiet place to visit. The choice was a no brainer, as in experienced as I was, I knew it would be completely embarrassing to walk to the front half way through the sermon in a new place.
Thinking of her situation instead of my own helped me to move forward, and surprisingly, our conversation wasn’t all that awkward after all. I gained new friend that day, but God also taught me a valuable lesson. A lesson that built on one that has been years in the making.
3 Practical Ways to Love Others as Yourself
1) Humbly Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt
We are taught from an early age that it’s a “dog-eat-dog” kind of world and it can seem like everyone is out to get us. And to be honest, there seems to be a lot of truth in that. But Proverbs 11:27 says, “Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it” (ESV). While we live in the world, God calls us to be set apart. To do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Part of that is giving others the benefit of the doubt. Instead of assuming the worst, we need to hope for the best.
This plays out for me the most often in the school zone at the elementary school my daughters attend. The traffic in Denver, Colorado where we used to live has nothing on the school zone traffic in our small Texas town. I pull away almost daily frustrated, angry, or trembling in fear from a close call. It would be easy to give into road rage (and sometimes I do), but I have found it’s better for my health to assume the best. Maybe they just didn’t see me? Maybe they are running late for work? This flows right into the next point.
2) Put Yourself in Their Shoes
One thing that has really helped me learn to love others as myself, is to simply put myself in their shoes. I ask myself, “How would I feel if that was me?” If I didn’t see the car behind me and accidently cut them off, would I want them to respond with anger or grace?
I already shared how the golden rule helped me to overcome my social awkwardness, but moving beyond school zones and church halls, learning to do unto others as I would have them do unto me changes my actions and reactions in all kinds of situations. What if I was the one who had dropped the ball or messed up? Would I want someone to keep bringing it up? Would I want them to hold a grudge? Would I want them to talk about it behind my back?
Putting myself into the shoes of others helps me to treat them the way I would want to be treated. It helps me to think about them the way I hope they think about me. It helps me to speak about them the way I hope they speak about me. It’s not just about actions and reactions, it’s about everything. Which brings me to the final point.
3) Pray for Them
Have you ever met someone who just rubbed you the wrong way? Maybe it was a personality clash, or you got off on the wrong foot originally? I know someone like this and it is hard to move past the bitterness that pops up every time I see them or hear their name. My instinct is to assume the worst. While the two steps above helps, what helps even more is to pray for them. I pray for God to help me see them the way He sees them. I pray for Him to work in their lives, just as I want Him to work in mine. It is really hard to hold a grudge against someone you are praying for.
I used to know another mom that intimidated me. After I started praying for her, she became less intimidating and we actually became friends.
I’m not going to say I have this all figured out. I still struggle with road rage in the school zone from time to time. I still have people I have to pray about. But the three points above have helped me grow in my walk with God. When I remember to implement them, they help me be a better witness for Jesus. They help me to unto others as I would have them do unto me.
What About You?
Do you struggle with any of the points above? Or have you found another way to love others as yourself? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
About Heather Hart
Jesus, books, & flowers. Flip-flops, chocolate, & coca cola. Those are a few of Heather’s favorite things. She doesn’t have it all together, but she’s okay with that because she knows Christ has her covered when she fails. Her hope that is while she is struggling through this thing called life, she is pointing others towards Jesus along the way. You can connect with Heather online by visiting her website CandidlyChristian.com