Love Thy Neighbor
Affirmation: I am a living, loving expression of God, right here and now.
The story is told of a farmer whose corn each year earned the winning prize at the state fair. One year, a reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew his corn. The farmer told the reporter that he shared his prize-winning seed corn with his neighbors.
When asked why, the farmer explained: “The wind picks up the pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If the neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
The same is true for the way we live our lives.
Jesus demonstrated love’s power to bless and heal ourselves and all those around us. He said one of the greatest commandments is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Jesus further commanded his disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Ancient and modern-day prophets alike have spoken about this concept of unconditional love for others. St. Francis of Assisi prayed: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” In his book, Strength to Love, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spelled out a formula for loving your enemies: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
If we wish to live in peace and harmony, we must help our neighbors do the same.
I took King’s words to heart at a time when I hated my job. At some point, I decided I could continue to hate it and feel miserable or I could find something to love about it.
I printed a statement in large letters and posted it in front of my desk. It read: “All I see is opportunity.” I didn’t agree with it at first, but I continued to affirm it until eventually I began to see opportunity. As the opportunities became more visible, I began to fall more and more in love with my work.
“Love is the great harmonizer and healer … love will bring your own to you, adjust all misunderstandings, and make your life and your affairs healthy, happy, harmonious, and free”.Charles Fillmore, The Revealing Word
A more recent story of learning to love your situation is told by Anthony Ray Hinton in his book, The Sun Does Shine. After spending 28 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, Hinton was exonerated in 2015. When he was initially sentenced he asked to speak to the court and proceeded to forgive each one of those who held his life and his fate in their hands. He told them he didn’t hate them and, in fact, he said he loved them. During nearly three decades behind bars, he taught his fellow death row inmates the power of unconditional love through Bible and book studies.
A white supremacist who was about to be executed was asked whether he had any final words. He was one of the men Hinton had befriended, and he observed that the very people he had been taught to hate were the ones who, in prison, taught him how to love.