“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” ~ John Wooden
There is a country music song with the lyrics “I want you to love me like my dog does.” This song reminds me of the comedian who suggested a sure way you can test the love and loyalty of those closest to you. He said to lock your spouse and your dog in the trunk of your car for about an hour, and then to open it. He claims this test will tell you right away who is the most loving and loyal by how they react to you when you open the trunk!
Just to be clear, I don’t recommend the “trunk test”. It does however raise an interesting question about why dogs are generally better at practicing unconditional love and loyalty than most people. I’m sure there are exceptions, but for the most part dogs don’t hold grudges. They enter each new encounter with a clean slate.
It would certainly serve us well if we could train and discipline ourselves to gain a “clean slate” perspective in our relationships. This is especially needed in how we respond to those closest to us. Don’t they deserve our genuine love and respect constantly and consistently? This is easy to acknowledge but not so easy to do. Here’s a Bible passage that will challenge you to be intentional about honoring others with love and respect:
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:9-10 NLT)
You are probably thinking about someone right now that you need to love and respect in this way. Be intentional about genuinely loving others in the context of mercy and grace. Clean the slate and pray for God to give you a fresh perspective and new insight into how to best love them. Paul’s wrote this to his friends in Philippi: “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” (Philippians 1:9 NLT)
Applying this simple principle and making it a practice in your relationships with others will not only make a huge difference in their lives but in your life as well. This is probably one of the most foundational practices of the Christian faith. We are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and we are to love others like ourselves. Scripture tells us that the world will know us by our love. Loving people well will open up opportunities for you to share about the love God in a very real and authentic way.
As a Christian leader, God has given you a platform of influence that can positively impact the lives of a lot of people. Honor Him and bless them today by practicing love and respect.