The reason that ignorant or evil men
so haughtily abuse the Bible;
the reason that multitudes
find licence on a Sunday Morning
for festive religious antics,
is that people read a text from the old Bible
and make no effort whatsoever
to find out to whom the writer is speaking.
This is done by going to the beginning of any epistle,
and taking note of the salutation made by the apostle;
or noting what precedes the words being considered.
In the case of “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”
it is essential to note the Qualifier to the statement
– the type of person to whom it is directed:
“… love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind.”
Only THEN comes –
“… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
In such a person, the second part of the admonition
will have little difficulty in following the first.
This text of biblical instruction is quite clearly given to those
whose daily course of life and thinking
is directed towards God – and NOT towards furthering
their own vanity.
Those who PROPERLY seek their own good,
do NOT permit themselves excesses that are detrimental:
they will not inflict injury to themselves;
they will not gorge themselves on food, or drink, or excess
which will make them sick or damage their health;
they will exercise discretion
with regard to what is Good for them,
and what is (ultimately) Bad for them.
In other words, sober-minded, conscientious people
will be very careful about what they do
to their own minds and bodies.
“… as thyself.”
That same discretionary conduct
that a God-fearing man or woman uses
for their own well-being —
is to be directed equally, to our ‘neighbour’.
It Is NOT – as the eyelid-fluttering modernist would have it,
a command to overlook and ignore Evil;
or countenance behaviour which is selfish, malicious, careless;
or borne of apathy and laziness.
“Hey, neighbour, I should not have cursed
and screamed at you yesterday.”
“Oh, that’s all right.” comes the often-heard response.
NO — It is not “all right”.
A suitable reply might be,
“I am very glad to receive your apology”,
or, “I am relieved to hear you say that”.
“Love thy neighbour as thyself”
means that you treat a neighbour
as you would treat yourself:
happy and content to receive humble and reasonable conduct;
but reproving any and all excesses of greed or vanity.
You do not condone Evil, for the sake of (so-called) “Peace”.
To do that is to sanction and encourage evil
– in yourself or in someone else.
If you love someone, you do not stand idly by
and let them harm anyone else out of malice or selfishness.
( Many, these days, will –
but I earnestly hope that You would not. )
You love your fellow man according to the conduct of character
that he displays of himself.
You do not love a sadistic, brutal, vicious abuser
of other human beings.
Common Sense, surely ???
And yet, Common Sense is something that –
over the past thirty years of “Do not judge” humanism,
has all-but vanished from the human race.
You “love” such an individual by setting a moral example to him;
and making it as plain as suitably possible that you do NOT
condone his brutality. [ ie: the editorial on “Shunning” ]
You may forgive or overlook minor flaws through ignorance
( whilst still always setting the example of proper conduct
or knowledge to him ) – as you would in yourself;
but anything that arises from intentional ridicule or abuse,
No. That is NOT ‘alright’ or ‘okay’.
You love that person enough to tell him or her
that that remark, or behaviour is NOT agreeable to you.
You love a person “as yourself” when you do Not
ignore or despise them
because they either are not as refined as you;
or because they excel you in moral qualities.
Over the last thirty-five years, people
have declared themselves to be my … “friend”, who –
once they realise that my life is not spent
in the pursuit of trivial entertainment or novelties,
suddenly vanish — completely:
they cease having anything more to do with me.
I make them, a few have told me – “uncomfortable”.
“Your standards are too high” said a woman last May,
whose acquaintance with me had only been fleeting:
through our garden and nursery.
People who made appointments
or expressed an enthusiastic desire
to visit our nursery or gardens in 2013
… once a Facebook Page was put in place,
and they saw that we were “Plain Folk”
– ( Christians who lived what they professed ) –
failed to show – ever;
or even tell us that they were not planning
on keeping the appointment that they made.
The hypocrisy of people who would spout
“Love thy neighbour” at the drop of a hat –
until such times as they discovered
that you were a thorn in their own conscience,
is characteristic of ‘religious’ multitudes.
“Equal Rights for all” — unless that person
has a higher moral centre or conduct than me:
then, I want nothing to do with him —
is the observable conduct of people on the whole.
In such a case, one hopes that such people will return
with some form of apology, however circuitous;
upon which, they are readily forgiven
and peace and fellowship may begin, or be restored.
That – is to “love thy neighbour”.
Esteem people better than yourself – until they open their mouths
and reveal a decided lack of character. Even then,
one is not to be malicious, or treat them with contempt;
but maintain an example of sober-minded decency,
and hope to win them through your own example.
You do not despise those who wrong you,
but hope earnestly
that they will be smitten by their own conscience;
and will seek your friendship and company as a result.
“Loving others” does NOT mean
being a doormat for them to wipe their feet upon.
‘Tuning the other cheek’ does not mean condoning Evil.
The Lord Jesus Christ challenged the evil
when he was notably struck in the face:
“… one of the officers which stood by
struck Jesus with the palm of his hand …
Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil
bear witness of the evil;
but if well, why smites thou me ?”
There are limits – biblical limits, too.
Even then, it is an honourable mentality to
“count him not as an enemy,
but admonish him as a brother.”
What is the daily conduct of a genuine Christian ?
It is hard to improve upon the general summary given here:
“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works;
in doctrine shewing uncorruptness,
sound speech, that cannot be condemned;
that he that is of the contrary part
may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
( The last few lines presume a moral conscience which,
in this day and age, is a rare thing to find.
Your responsibility, however, is to do the right thing
and to leave the evil man to face God
on the certain Day of Judgment. )
Love thy neighbour means wanting the best
for every man and woman
within the same discretionary bounds as one uses
for his own well-being.
For those who have been malicious or evil, it means
being hopeful for, and always willing to receive,
an apology for past disgraceful conduct.
( and never – as the self-venerating world would have it,
“forget and move on” )
one’s own shameful conduct and poor decisions,
is the best method, I believe,
for overlooking the indiscretions of others.
I can hate myself – very readily …
I hate the memory of every time that I spoke foolishly
or behaved selfishly with any other person in my life.
I would be mortified and filled with remorse to learn
that I had slighted any person: far from finding
any satisfaction in such a thing,
I would be deeply distressed to hear of it.
Human beings make mistakes out of emotion
or thoughtlessness. The honour comes
in recognising the fact and apologising,
or accepting apologies – as the situation dictates.
That person is not evil because he has insulted you;
but he is evil if he insults many:
there is a vast difference between occasional failings
that are ‘out of character’ –
and a regular course of selfishness and contempt of others.
One does not Condone or Excuse Evil,
but hopes for, prays about,
and is ever ready to forgive evil or injury upon,
an offender’s genuine and heartfelt repentance.
To IGNORE any one who sends an overture of friendship
and good will,
is to reveal the depths of bitterness and selfishness
that reside in my own heart.
In such a case, the one who has ‘wronged’ me,
now becomes the one who is being Wronged
Genuinely desiring the best for a person,
and doing one’s best to overcome – using wisdom,
discretion, and refusing to ignore evil –
all contrary obstacles,
That, I would suggest, is what it means
to “Love thy neighbour”.