For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always critical and catty, watch out! Beware of ruining each other. Galatians 5:14-15 Life Application Bible.
Recently, and after a long separation from God I have returned to my faith. More will be written on that journey in future posts, however reading back through this blog will provide a snap shot of the last few years journey.
This morning I am reflecting on the above Bible passage and its real life possibilities and implications.
To love others as we love ourselves always confused me, because as someone who really doesn’t feel a whole lot of love for myself (but I am getting better) I wondered why on earth I would want to treat others the way I treat myself.
Since reading and studying more on this passage I have come to understand it this way. We all have, an inherit instinct to preserve ourselves. The need to eat when hungry, sleep in a warm bed when tired, and live in a decent clean environment. These are our basic needs we love to take care of for survival. And this is the very minimal way we can show our love and support for others. We all know a person lacking in any of these carnal needs will find it very difficult to feel or learn about love and compassion.
The second verse of the above passage warns about being critical and catty. This truth I have come to know on a personal level through interactions with many people and God willing I can summarize effectively below.
Having met with different types of people and knowing we take away grains of their beliefs I noticed something very interesting. There is a multitude of people who tend to be flippant, catty, critical and manipulative (the language of shame) in their approach to correcting what they perceive as a “wrong”. When met with one of these people I notice it triggers feelings of defensiveness and shame in those who do not understand their true identity in Christ.
This type of council leads to thoughts of rebellion and can cause the receiver to act out in ways opposite to the message the sender was trying to convey. Rebellion is part of our natural instinct so it is probably unhelpful to trigger that instinct when attempting to
help someone who’s actions are harmful to themselves or others. This is evident in cases of bullying that lead to feelings of depression and in extreme instances, suicide.
There is a second type of person who takes an entirely different approach to supportive correction. They are kind, loving, humble and and supportive (the language of guilt). While they offer critical direction and support toward growth, they are not critically judgmental. This type of teaching tends to stick and produce a real and positive change for many (myself included). Guilt when used as guide post to help us correct our wrong actions is a great way to improve the lives of ourselves and others.
Of course this is all dependent on the receiver. If a student desires to be kind, loving humble and supportive their natural sense of rebellion will not be triggered by someone who is using the language of guilt vs. the language of shame.
I know myself I tend to ask more questions of the second type of person, and take a curious interest in what sorts of things helped shape a person of this caliber. A person who is humble enough to realize they have no worthy judgement against anyone.
Sheila Walsh – Guilt tells you, you’ve done something wrong. Shame tells you, you are something wrong.
Anyway the two extremes are just examples and for discussion purposes. I think many of us are somewhere in between and can be catty and sarcastic one day and more loving and supportive the next. It is all part of the human experience.
For me returning to faith in God allows me to read, study and meditate on these simple nuggets of truth. And when I find myself putting them into practice more and more frequently in my life I thank God. I thank God that it allow me to reach out in loving, kind, humble and supportive ways more effectively.
So there it is in a simple grape seed. “To be catty, smart mouthed and critical is human while actions of humility, love and kind supportive correction is divine.