Show love by hearing the needs of others.
‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.’
- Romans 13:8-10 .
‘Love does no wrong to a neighbour’. Surely loving our neighbour is something we would all aspire to. I would like to think that, but maybe we can love too much. I think that too much love, perversely, becomes just the opposite - with the recipient becoming lost in the waves of caring which do more to bolster the giver.
We laugh at the jokes about some over-zealous, caring citizen rushing up to an elderly person and escorting them safely across the road. The joke? They were not planning to cross in the first place.
How can you avoid becoming that caricature? There is something to do with listening to the other, rather than just assuming you know what they need and want, and something about keeping your eyes and ears open to the context of what you are observing.
This reminds me of an illustration I saw recently in Ekklesia’s Feast or Famine published by DLT. The gist was that we are all actively involved in rescuing people from a fast-flowing river... so much so that we don’t look upstream to find out who is throwing the people into the river in the first place.
Spend some time today browsing Christian Aid’s website and notice how often we are reminded that all work is in partnership with local people and churches, listening to the voices of the most experienced – those who have a lived experience of the challenges.
Take a moment to wonder how you can be involved in sharing just one of those stories more widely.
Loving God, teach me to see not just with my eyes but with my ears too.
Not just to observe, but to hear the needs of the other.
Teach me to act wisely, prompted not just by my own assumptions
but in response to the priorities that people set for themselves.
Today’s contributor is the Rev Helen M Mee, the temporary transition minister in the National Synod of Scotland of the United Reformed Church.
Published on 05 November 2019