Treating Each Other Better

Ultimately, how we treat others speaks loudly about our love for Christ.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

In ethics class, we are taught that ethics is simply a matter of determining right from wrong. The trick lies in how we decide what is right or wrong. As a Christian, my belief system is clear. What’s right and wrong and how I am to treat others is spelled out for me in black and white. There is no real way to confuse “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NIV).

holding-hands-752878_1280 edit

Demeaning someone because of their race or ethnicity or whatever is flat out wrong. Racism is a sinful scourge tarnishing our history as a people. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that ALL life is created by God and  EVERY human life has value in the eyes of the Lord. One race was not created superior over another. Red, yellow, black, or white—we’re all equal in God’s eyes. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul reminds us, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us, apart from Christ, are perfect. Yet, God loves us, even in our broken and fallen state. The Lord delights in us, especially when we delight in Him.

Genesis 1:27-28 The Message (MSG)

26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
        reflecting our nature
    So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
        the birds in the air, the cattle,
    And, yes, Earth itself,
        and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
    God created human beings;
        he created them godlike,
    Reflecting God’s nature.
        He created them male and female.
    God blessed them:
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
    Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
        for every living thing that moveon the face of Earth.”

We long ago denounced the wickedness of slavery and decades ago defeated the evil ideology of Nazism. They have no place in our society. Yet, they continue to exist. Each time they raise their ugly heads, we must denounce them.  

We must treat each other better. 

Treating each other better is rooted in being humble and kind. Hatred and racism cannot exist in the presence of a humble and kind heart. Humility and kindness help us recognize we aren’t superior to one another. Humility and kindness lead us to treat each other better. 

“Humble And Kind”
(written by Lori McKenna)

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key’s under the mat
When childhood stars shine,
Always stay humble and kindGo to church ’cause your mamma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be wasted time
Always stay humble and kindHold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kindDon’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why:
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kindKnow the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
“I love you” ain’t no pick-up line
So always stay humble and kindHold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kindWhen it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kindDon’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Today, people all around the globe are ensnared in human trafficking and forced labor. In the U.S. and other developed countries, human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, impacts an estimated one-third to one-half of all homeless youth under the age of 18.  If you watch porn or support the porn industry, you support human slavery. Did you know that? Porn is something that exists in the shadows and that is practiced in the darkness. Most of us don’t watch porn at work or at church or at the family dinner table. Yet, we all know it’s there. Porn hides in our midst. Just like racism. 

Yes, we’ve made a ton of progress since Abraham Lincoln proclaimed emancipation and Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream. Even in their time, the Founding Fathers recognized that ALL people were created equal. Mired in an economy dependent on slave labor, they recognized they still had a long way to go to make that a reality. Truth is, while much progress has been made, there is still much more to do. We’re not there yet. 

blog-2288426_1920 atomic negative

Today, many people are frustrated by a system that seems too slow to change. Some see it as a time  to dish out old lies of the past, somehow trying to convince sane and reasonable people that one person’s skin tone is better than another. The events of Charlottesville this past weekend call us to do better. We must.

We need to start treating each other better. No one has a monopoly on love and respect.

Tim McGraw “Humble and Kind”

As a Christian and a Christ-imitator, I cannot denounce the hatred wrought by racism loudly enough. Jesus loved me while I was yet a sinner. God granted me grace and mercy when I did not deserve it. For me to think that somehow the color of my skin raises me above someone else is vile and foolhardy.  Brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to treat each other this way.  We cannot continue to make it a black thing or a white thing or a brown thing. Taking pride in our ethnicity and our culture is one thing; allowing our arrogance to divide us is another.  God loves you, just like God loves me. He loves you if you’re white. He loves you if you’re brown. He loves you if you’re black. More importantly, God forgives us, regardless of our race, ethnicity, gender, or national origin. When we believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation and ask God for His forgiveness, He does so joyfully, delighting in us, just as we are. It is really that simple.

Without forgiveness, we will find it difficult to move forward. The time has come to let our love for Christ speak clearly through how we treat one another. I am only one person unable to change the world alone. But, I can change that small portion of the world I’m in.  So can you; I believe you will. Godspeed. Go in peace. Love one another as Christ first loved you.

Prayer:

Father, we love you and shout your praises! Let us walk more humbly today, and love others like Christ loved us. Father, through your Son, Jesus, we know what love is and we know what forgiveness is. We can do better, but we need you to help us supernaturally overcome the evils of racism and slavery that besiege us. Forgive us for our sins and shortcomings. Help us reflect the love that you have shown us through your Son,  Jesus Christ and by your Spirit. Lift us up from the depths of darkness into the light. Help us see what we do not see, help us know what we do not know. Help us be kinder to one another and treat each other with a respect that can only come from knowing you and your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.

macbook-336704_1920 antonio edit

 

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com. Edited with Pixlr.

More God, Less Me

Keeping life simple is a key ingredient in the recipe of recovery. Sobriety—not using or doing that thing that makes your life unmanageable—depends on living a life marked with gratitude and humility. There is no room for boasting or making much of myself. Life can’t be all about me.

Rather, life today is more about others. How am I impacting the people God has placed in my circle of influence? I try to go about this quietly, avoiding drawing attention to myself. By nature, for a variety of reasons (including ego) minimizing my efforts proves to be challenging for myself at times.

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

       but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

humble-732566_1920_EM

You’ve all encountered the drunken braggarts at the local bar. Our fish tale keeps growing more preposterous with each rendition. Our hey-look-at-me circus builds into an explosive rant-filled dance begging for the spotlight to shine on us longer and brighter. Braggadocio is the life recovery calls us to leave behind. We no longer look to shine the light on ourselves but strive to build up others, helping them be all God intended them to be. We know that the Lord has a plan and that plan does not mean to do us harm. We are His servants, no longer slaves to our addictions, free to let God’s light shine through us, so that He may be glorified, not ourselves; so that others might benefit, not us alone.

We maximize God and lessen ourselves. We lift up others without highly regarding ourselves. We do it for the love of God and the love for others.

We recognize that we are lucky to be alive and whatever life we have is grand. Ours is a grace adventure, basking with gratitude and walking in humility.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5

caravan-2239305_1280

Otherwise, our world is bound to come crashing down around us. We have to ensure we keep first things first, taking care to daily order our priorities. Life in recovery is, after all, a day by day endeavor. Our foundation, secured through our Savior, must be built on prayer and God’s Word if it is to stand. The Lord must grow in us, and we must make ourselves smaller to make room for Him. Who are we, after all, that God would concern Himself with us? Yet, we know God does. We must try to learn and understand His ways and His thoughts, so that we can make them ours, letting His light shine brightly through us. In recovery, our life becomes about God and others and less about us.

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.” The Gospel of Mark 12:28-31