I work in the retail industry, which means I work with the public. There are times that the customer has done something with their purchase which voids the warranty. When they come in, they want to make an exchange under the warranty. Many times, I’ve caught reps saying, “Sorry. That’s just our policy.” I’ve found that using that phrase usually infuriates people. The rep usually then tries to educate the customer on our policy so they understand why we can’t do it.
I’ve spent some time working with them to help change their approach. I tell them, “Customers don’t care about policy or what you can’t do. They need compassion and empathy along with what you can do.” I explain that knowledge is not enough when it comes to something near and dear to someone. Knowledge does nothing to correct their problem. Even if we can’t do anything for them, showing some empathy will to a lot farther.
In the days of the Early Church, there were many questions about what Christians could and could not do. Many arguments broke out that created divisions. People argued their side and tried to make each other more knowledgeable so they would change their ways. Paul responded in Corinthians 8:1, “Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church” (NLT). It seemed everyone had an idea or an opinion, but few had love for each other.
Even today, many of us have disagreements and try to prove each other wrong. All that does is puff us up as an individual. God’s desire is that you and I begin to act in love and empathy in order to strengthen the Church. We can’t forget that we are one body. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but we can always choose to act in love. We are co-laborers in Christ, not competitors. It’s time we stopped trying to make the foot a hand or a hand an eye. Let’s act in love towards one another, strengthen each other and learn to work together.
In Matthew 22, some Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. In verses 37-39 Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (GNT). Jesus was very clear that we should love God first and then our neighbor.
On the night before the crucifixion, at the Last Supper, Jesus gathered His disciples around for one final teaching. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “And now i give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Jesus was adding that now we have to love other believers as well.
Sometimes the hardest people to love are within the walls of our churches. We find it easy to go out and love the homeless, the orphan, the destitute and the broken, but that’s not how Jesus said they would know we are Christians. Are those things necessary? Yes! Those are our neighbors. What’s difficult for so many of us is to love the person on the pew next to us or in the church across town. And that’s who Jesus commanded us to love on His last night. He knew we would struggle with this.
Jesus once said, “A house divided can’t stand.” Since that time, the enemy has tried to divide the Church. We’re divided into denominations and now we split churches because we grow to hate our brothers. If we’re going to be effective in loving our neighbors, we’ve got to love each other first. We need to put down our grudges and love each other instead. Until we get that right, how will the world know we are truly His disciples? If you’re holding a grudge, slandering or angry against another believer, you’ll find it’s difficult to obey the first two commandments effectively. Learn to love your brother (or sister) in Christ whether you think they deserve it or not.