Perhaps I’m being a little cynical, but I can’t help thinking we’ve all become rather chilly towards each other. I’ve thought this through many times now: I have more fingers than I can count people who’ve ever treated me in a warm and loving way…
And before you accuse me of being rather self-centered, I’ll freely admit I probably haven’t treated many people with warmth and love either.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a “loving” family home. My parents would have done almost anything for me: they were wonderful people. But that love was rarely expressed directly. They loved me in their hearts and in their hard work, and in the way they provided for me: all wonderful things to do for anyone. But they rarely, if ever, expressed that love in words, in soft, kind voices, or in hugs and kisses.
And I think the great majority of us make the same mistake in the way we treat people around us, perhaps in our own homes. We feel love for them, we do things for them, we spend time with them and money on them, but for some strange reason we just can’t bring ourselves to look into their eyes, hold their hands, and gently and passionately tell them how much they mean to us. Only when they’re “gone”, when they’ve been taken from us or leave us, do we feel a strong desire to make it abundantly clear to them that we love them, and that they were precious to us.
If you’re an attractive person you probably have the pleasure of being treated with more respect and interest than the rest of us are. You probably find that your lover is passionate about you, until, that is, he or she decides it’s time to move on to someone else, or that they just don’t like you as much as they liked your body and your looks. So bye-bye…that’s not a loving, warm person: that’s just someone wanting to use you.
And in this age of short-term relationships, it’s becoming more and more difficult to meet someone who isn’t, despite all the expressions of “love” and attention, warm, kind and sincere, and who isn’t driven by self-seeking lust.
In our world of casual relationships it’s unfashionable and uncomfortable to express warmth and love to others. But worse than that, we live in a world now where people are not only without love, but who just plain don’t like people who don’t fit their mold-their idea of a person worth knowing. Our culture of perceived individuality has actually served to bring division, distrust and distain. How do we manage to live in big cities while at the same time despising people who are different to us?
What can we do about this problem? We-you and I-have to somehow make a conscious choice that we are going to do the right thing. We have to think of others with humility rather than pride and superiority. We have to make a determined effort to be polite and considerate towards other people even if we don’t like what they look like or what they wear or how much money or intelligence they appear to have. And we have to be determined to physically, outwardly and sincerely demonstrate love, warmth and kindness, even if we’re the only ones doing it. And we have to swallow our pride, forget our hurts and our grudges, and show warm, kind love to those who are closest to us.
Among the many benefits of this attitude will be that we will please our God, whose son said that the second greatest commandment, after loving him, is “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
He even went so far as to say that we must love our enemies (Luke 6:27), because:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you”? (Luke 6:32).
If we are to love our enemies, and to love our Creator, then presumably we are to love everyone in between as well. And love really isn’t love unless we show it, say it and do it.