48 Short, Specific Suggestions on Loving Others as We Love Ourselves

In my previous post, I talked about Loving Others in 2017, which provides the general background for today’s post, and if you have not read it (or wish to reread it) you can click the link above. Today’s post is a follow-up, but you can just read today’s list if you prefer.

Loving others is not a sentimental exercise; it is engaging others as fellow-humans who are loved by God. This post suggests a number of ways we might love others as ourselves better than we already do.

You likely have thought about most of these things before, and you need not focus on every item here, but you can read through them and zero in on those that speak to you. They might also trigger your own thoughts. If so, let me know in comments; I might post an addendum of additional suggestions.

love-do-to-others

Preparing Ourselves to Love Others

1. We cannot love others appropriately if we don’t love ourselves appropriately, so focus on things that prevent us from loving ourselves

2. Internalize God’s unlimited love for each of us

3. In the light of God’s love, take note of personal self-destructive or negative behaviors

4. Define what loving others means – it includes empathy, compassion, and care

5. Empathy: see others as fellow humans having dignity; they also have history, issues, hurts, and needs – they are very much like us.

6. Compassion: respond to the issues, hurts, and needs of others

7. Care: act on the desire to help others in their issues, hurts, and needs

8. Impatience significantly impedes loving others; work on patience

9. Abandon tribalism; there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ in love

10. Always be fair; never benefit at another’s expense

11. Be a reconciler; help bring about reconciliation when opportunities arise

12. Practice being pleasant, friendly, and accommodating with everyone

13. Forgive easily; harboring resentment will eat us up

Loving Those Who are Difficult to Love

14. Reflect on the person’s humanity and consider what might have made them difficult people (empathy)

15. If there is bad history just accept who the difficult person is and don’t judge them or try to change them; we are not the voice of God’s judgment to other people

16. Remember that we can’t control what others do, but we can control how we respond

17. Don’t argue over disagreements, even when they bring them up; don’t take the bait

18. Do engage in dialogue with those who think differently—if it is genuine dialogue and not just arguing

19. Remember we are not in competition with others; we don’t need to ‘win’ or to ‘defeat’ them

20. Refuse to give difficult people power over your responses by provoking or accusing you; you determine your responses

21. When accused, we don’t have to explain; explanations sometimes sound like excuses to others

22. If dealing with an abuser, a manipulator, or a well-of-endless-need, set reasonable boundaries; sometimes professional assistance or police involvement is needed

23. Remember that forgiving someone is not the same as forgetting what happened or not holding them accountable for future behavior

24. Disparaging, disdaining, or insulting another is to forget that they have human dignity, that God loves them, and that they are as important to God as we are

25. Hatred of another is never appropriate, even when others treat us hatefully; get beyond a hatred flash response to see others as God sees them

26. A hostile attitude does not lead to positive resolutions

Loving Those Who are Marginalized

27. Reflect on Jesus’ outreach to the marginalized: sinners (those who didn’t keep the elaborate religious rules), lepers, Samaritans, the ill, women, gentiles, tax agents, and an adulteress

28. In private conversations, confront disparaging remarks and attitudes toward other groups

29. Be prepared to take risks in supporting the marginalized

30. Be prepared to act in response to bullying, harassment, or other spontaneous need

31. Wear a safety pin on your shirt or coat; it is a sign that you are safe and prepared to help, and it is also a reminder to us to be observant and prepared to respond to such sudden needs

32. Offer to accompany transgender persons to the restroom

33. Get to know individuals from various marginalized groups

34. Vote for efforts to support the rights of marginalized groups

Loving Those in Deep Need

35. Begin with your own family, neighbors, and close associates who are in need; they are as important as the needy whom we don’t know: ‘Charity begins at home’

36. Care for those in need with your time, money, and understanding—as well as with your presence

37. Care for others by helping find outside resources

38. Prepare ahead of time for helping those in random encounters

39. Decide ahead of time and keep easily accessible cash on hand ($5 bills or your designated amount) in case of random encounters such as the homeless or hungry

40. Where possible, offer to buy the hungry person a meal at a nearby restaurant

41. Create gift bags in advance for homeless and other needy persons; they might include money, gloves, thermal socks, beef sticks, crackers, candy bars, toothpaste, toothbrush, wipes, deodorant, snacks and other items

42. Ask your church about providing church space for the homeless at night, especially in cold weather

Working with Institutions to Help the Needy

43. Don’t give money to the church assuming they will use it wisely; ask about the budget to see if it is well balanced between internal church needs and helping others; ask specifically how they help the needy

44. Ask local bread lines and food pantries what they need before buying food for them; they will likely prefer cash as they have connections to purchase food much more cheaply than we can, and they can also control the mix of foods they must manage

45. Consider volunteering, or getting even more involved, in a local outreach to the needy—homeless, hungry, or otherwise

46. Familiarize yourself with local shelters and other sources of assistance to the needy, and compile an information list to give to needy persons you meet

47. We cannot respond personally to every need, so give regularly to selective responsible and effective local, national, and international organizations; check with accountability/efficiency agencies before giving

48. Donate unwanted items from your home to a) relatives, friends, and acquaintances who need them or b) to responsible organizations such as Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity

More Suggestions?

I hope you have found some of these suggestions useful. If you thought of additional suggestions, please mention them in comments for a possible addendum to this list.

***

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19 Responses to 48 Short, Specific Suggestions on Loving Others as We Love Ourselves

  1. This is really great Tim! Will be sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anthony Paul says:

    Your thoughts and words are of great spiritual and practical value, especially in a world where we are devouring each other in a cauldron of hate. Please understand that I find your post both necessary and beautiful… BUT…

    … I must confess to you all that as I have gotten older my feelings are more reflective of what Dostoevsky wrote in The Brothers Karamazov:

    “”I have never been able to understand how it is possible to love one’s neighbors. And I mean precisely one’s neighbors, because I can conceive of the possibility of loving those who are far away…. If I must love my fellow man, he had better hide himself, for no sooner do I see his face than there’s an end to my love for him.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony, I think I know what you mean. As I have gotten older I have come to genuinely love those close around me more. Yes there is a lot of strife, conflict, and hostility. But whereas I used to respond frequently with anger, defensiveness, and hostility, I am now more able to see them as God sees them–people with their own needs, though often at odds with my own needs.

      I admit I am not perfect in my responses, but I do try to remember that God loves them as much as he loves me and that Jesus taught us to love and consistently demonstrated it for us in his own life.

      But this is just me; my capacity for empathy, compassion, and care has grown–even for those close enough to me to cause constant friction, but I still have room for improvement. And in any case my thoughts are not the standard for anyone but me. I know it is often difficult to love certain people around us. I offer the suggestions in the post only in case some of them are helpful to someone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony Paul says:

        I say this in all sincerity and with the hope that it does not come across as idle flattery… I think that you are one of God’s more beautiful creations… it’s clear to all who know you through these posts that you always try to find something good in all things. Today I find myself being thankful to God for you, Tim.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anthony, I am very humbled by your comment. Though I try always do the right thing, I don’t think I deserve such lofty accolades. But I thank you for your comments and your support. I hope you continue to find the blog useful, and I appreciate all your great comments on the posts.

          Like

    • sheila0405 says:

      Anthony, that’s my dilemma as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Chas says:

    Tim, what concerns me is that here we have a long list of things that we need to do to love people as we ought. That brings the danger of feeling bad if we fail to achieve one of them. Isn’t this blog about the opposite? It seems to me that only God can help us to overcome the shortcomings that genetics and history has heaped upon us. It would seem appropriate, as a first step, for us to ask God to help us to become what He wants us to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I would readily agree with you that ‘a long list of things we need to do to love people as we ought’ would be a bad thing–a harmful. In fact, this would be legalism, and you are right that this is the very thing this blog opposes. I also agree with you that we rely on God to help us love others. It is God’s love for us as individuals that allows us to love others appropriately.

      However, I did not intend this as a list we must do but a list of things we can consider, pick and choose, or even ignore. The problem of loving others for many believers is that they see it as a legalistic duty to perform, whereas if we internalize God’s love for us we are not pressed by a ‘duty’; we WANT to love others–it comes from within us rather than being a religious rule to perform.

      So I posted these suggestions to perhaps give people some practical ideas they had not yet considered. I am sorry if it came across as legalistic. That certainly was not my intention.

      Like

      • Chas says:

        Tim, It did not really come across as legalistic, but I was aware that there is a danger of such a list becoming so for someone who is vulnerable. It is very difficult to come up with brief guidance rules, as I tried to do, having read your list. ‘Be kind’ is maybe a start, but that alone is insufficient. To be effective, we need to be working in harmony with God, He guiding us and we being willing to act accordingly; acting alone. We could never succeed for long when acting alone. How can we work in harmony with God? Ask Him to help us.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, I am glad it did not come across as legalistic. But I agree with you that ANY statement is sometimes taken as a legalistic pronouncement rather than a simple guidance statement. People do this all the time with Jesus’ statements, Paul’s, and, in fact, all the biblical writers.

          Thank you for pointing out this danger. As for a simple guidance, perhaps: Love others as you love yourself.

          Like

          • sheila0405 says:

            I still like succinct messages. That’s my preference. I readily admit that I tend to be wordy, & spend lots of time editing when I write! No worries, though. Your suggestions are worthwhile.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Sheila, you are observant. This is indeed a longer post than I usually write. I have a rather strict rule of ‘less than a thousand words’ and prefer more in the 900-950 range. This one was longer because of the nature of the post. I do not plan on longer posts in general.

            Like

  4. sheila0405 says:

    Fewer tips are easier to remember. I do agree with what you are saying overall. I think 2017 will be challenging for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Why ‘Love the Sinner; Hate the Sin’ is Opposite to Jesus’ Teaching | Jesus Without Baggage

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