Photo Credit: Stefan Schweihofer

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22.37-39

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12.29-31

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. Luke 10.27

I remember the first time I heard my teacher suggest that we love people more than truth. His comment resonated with me. Since then I have shared his suggestion many times. I have found that as I share the comment many people consider it to be ambiguous. Perhaps I understand it more clearly because I was in the middle of a scenario where I was loving truth more than people. It is meaningful for me because it was exactly what I needed, and the timing was impeccable.

Three years ago I began a new vocation; I started my teaching career. I was nearly thirty-seven years old when I began teaching. Before I started back to college (at age 29) I was an HVAC installer, and after that I worked in a warehouse long enough to get through school. I found myself (in the first year) teaching a group of rowdy students, and I was teaching Bible. I became so frustrated; I couldn’t understand why the students wouldn’t listen to me. I was sharing with them important biblical principles, pouring my heart out, and they just continued to goof around and seemingly could care less about what I was teaching. I became angry and frustrated. It was at this time (near the end of the year, unfortunately) that my teacher made the statement, “we need to love people more than truth.” He did not go into great detail, but I didn’t need him to. His brief statement opened my eyes to my faults as a teacher. I suppose I was a bit naive, I am not sure what I was expecting. I became angry because the students would not embrace the truth. I loved the truth more than I loved them.

I would like to say that I have overcome this struggle, unfortunately I have not. I realize that I do not love others in the way that Christ commands. This problem (lack of love) extends to my family, friends, and students (my neighbors-everyone). I have a tendency to love the perception of what I think others should be. Often, I become frustrated with others when they do not fulfill the image that I long them to be. I cannot wait for people to change before I love them. I must love them for who they are. I experience this as a father. I expect certain things from my children, and hope for even more. But I become disappointed in them when they are not who I want them to be, because I love who I want them to become more than who they are.

Before you judge me, examine yourself and see if you don’t share the same struggle. I have learned that human nature is essentially the same. We usually raise our standard of expectations for other people meanwhile lowering it for ourselves. The pharisees were waiting for the sinners to get cleaned up and change their ways before they would love and associate with them. In reality, people get cleaned up and change their ways after they experience real love.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13.13