Loving my neighbor as myself.
I’ve struggled with that idea for a long time, because I’m not always really sure I know what it means. Does it mean to treat my neighbor the way I would like to be treated? That’s what I’ve been taught since I was a child. Does it mean to love my neighbor the way I love myself right now? That one’s a bit more tricky because I don’t always love myself.
Popular dating sites always tell women who are looking for good men who will treat them well to pay attention to how they act around other women. Mothers, especially. And maybe the same advice applies to Christians – you can spot a good Christian by how they relate to others, mothers or otherwise. Maybe it would help to spot a good Christian by looking at how they treat themselves, because oftentimes Christians get confused and only treat others instead of looking after themselves as well. They get the first part right – loving their neighbor – but don’t think that they need anything, even if it is, in fact, a need, and not a want.
Lots of blurry lines. I’ve always liked C.S. Lewis’ interpretation, though, from Mere Christianity:
“I pointed out in the chapter on Forgiveness that our love for ourselves does not mean that we like ourselves. It means that we wish our own good. In the same way Christian Love (or Charity) for our neighbours is quite a different thing from liking or affection. We “like” or are “fond of” some people, and not of others. It is important to understand that this natural “liking” is neither a sin nor a virtue, any more than your likes and dislikes in food are a sin or a virtue. It is just a fact But, of course, what we do about it is either sinful or virtuous.”
Do I wish my own good? Do you wish your own good? Somehow I feel that once we do, we really will be able to turn to our neighbors and wish it for them, once we actually know what we’re wishing.