Help me to see other people as you see them. Let me not look upon the masses or refer to the generalized public, but to see each individual and love them the way you love them.
You made each person in your own image. Let me see the image of God in each person. Let me realize the high esteem with which you regard each life. Just as I am your workmanship, let me see your workmanship in each life I encounter. It doesn’t matter whether they know you or not, they are still precious in your sight and you love them so much you died for them. How can I not treat each person with personal care when I know they are your masterpiece—a work of art in progress, being sculpted into your likeness?
Lord, you said that if we do something for “the least of these” we have done it for you. The way I treat others is a reflection of how I treat you. My spiritual life is played out in the physical realm. When I look away from the needs of others, I turn away from you. When I divide people by race, income, political views, or any other criteria, I am looking down on how you made each person. You have a plan for each one of us. Whether I realize it or not, you are working in each life so who am I to judge someone who may be in a different growth process than I am?
You said the greatest commandment is to love God and love others. That is such a noble thought. I want to slap it on t-shirts and bumper stickers but on the streets and cyber-highways it’s not as easy to do this as it sounds. I have trouble loving my own family sometimes, let alone loving someone who disagrees with me online or criticizes one of my books. This noble purpose seems undignified when I have to be bothered with someone else’s messy life. That’s why it’s easier to walk away. Help me to be willing to get involved in the mess, if I must.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you said. We have called this the golden rule because it reminds us to measure our standard of treatment toward others by the standard we hold for ourselves. It seems fair enough, until we find someone treating us unfairly. Or worse, until we find we are treating others unfairly.
Then there’s the platinum rule: “love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Teach me to love like that. I’ve tried at times, but my fellow Christians mock me. They say you didn’t really mean that. But I believe you want us to love the individual, regardless of what that person has done. I am not the judge of someone’s sin. You are. So I am free to love the person because you will take care of the rest.
You said if we only love those who love us, if we’re only kind to our friends, how are we different from anyone else? Even non-Christians do that much. You hold us to a higher standard: love everyone.
You also said that our love for each other will prove to the world that we are your disciples. We are supposed to stand out because of our loving words and deeds.
“Love each other as I have loved you.” That’s what you told the disciples. We can love others BECAUSE you have loved us. Sometimes we don’t feel loved, though. That’s when it’s easier to become harsh with others. Lord, fill me with your love so I, in turn, can love others the way you want me to.
Loving others often requires personal sacrifices, whether it’s time, money, or a bit of pride. But you said if we give even a cup of cold water to someone in your name, we will be rewarded. Lord, give me an eternal perspective to remember that my life is not my own and any sacrifice here and now will be more than made up for in heaven. Help me look upward as I serve you here on earth.
Lord, make me a conduit of your love and power to others. Even if I don’t feel any natural love of my own towards someone, remind me to pray, “Lord, dispense your love and power through me to this person.” That allows you to work in any given situation, giving me the words to say or the guidance on how to act that is most appropriate for the person. Only you know how a person needs to be loved. So let your love flow through me to others. Let me touch lives for you, one person at a time.
Each of these things are in your Word so they are in your will. You said if I ask for anything in your will, you will grant it. Lord, I ask you to make it so in my life. Thank you.