I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get. (Matthew 7:12, MSG)
On our recent vacation I was captured by the joyful spirit of our LYFT driver, Denise. She greeted us with a big welcoming hug (at 6:30am!) and after battling the traffic to the airport for an hour, she left us with a soft smile and an even more intense goodbye embrace. But during the drive she described the daily care of her son stricken from birth with sickle cell anemia. His recent graduation to heaven at age 19 opened up new options for her energy to be reallocated to serve others outside her family. Denise was our new friend, because she gave us the gift of her loving presence and caring interest. Love grabs the initiative to serve, just as it enjoys being served.
The verses preceding the Golden Rule illustrate the requirement for our loving relationship with people to flow out of our loving relationship with our heavenly Father. The Golden Rule is empowered by the Platinum Rule: to see others as God sees them, to serve others as Jesus would serve them and to love others as the Lord loves them. Our love alone is inferior—it only takes us so far, but when our love is infused by the Holy Spirit it is superior in its ability to go the second, third and fourth mile for the sake of others. Our visible love is sustained by God’s invisible love.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
What does it mean to be other centered? One attribute is the art of asking heartfelt questions:
How is your family? How is your heart? How is your health? What are your dreams? What gives you energy? What is the biggest challenge you are facing? What are you learning from the Lord? How can I pray for you? Caring questions are a safe and effective way to express to others how much we care for them. People tend to come alive when they open up about themselves.
Make sure you go the next step and not only ask good questions, but be an even better listener. Traits of a good listener are eye contact and the ability to repeat back to the individual what they said in a way that makes them feel understood. Also, others are convinced of your genuine interest in them when you don’t highjack the conversation to “relate” to them with your similar story. Share small examples of your life experience to show you empathize, but refocus quickly on the other person’s story. Interest in others is infectious. What are you doing for others - today?
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me by Your Spirit to love and care for those who cross my path. Give me an interest for what interests others.
By Boyd Bailey