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  1. #1
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    Default Loving Your Brother

    An issue in another thread got pulled into a private message. It raised a point that I think is worth going over with the group.

    Christ summarized all of the Law into two fundamentals: (1) Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and (2) Love your neighbor.

    For years, I wrestled with that second point. I don't like most people; let alone love them. I felt like I couldn't possibly succeed at this. It felt like an insurmountable proposition. How could I change my heart? How could I force myself to like the taste of beets more than the taste of ice cream? Eventually I grew to realize that it wasn't about a feeling within my heart; it is about action. I may not like vegetables more than dessert, but I can eat vegetables more than dessert. And loving others is frequently analogous to eating your vegetables--even if you don't really want to do it, you know that you should.

    Christ told us, "Whatever you do for the least of men, you do also for me." We are instructed to help the poor. In our current political climate (and by current, I mean during the last half-century), there is sort of an automatic response from the freedom-loving man when these topics come up. We've seen the leftists try to turn Jesus into a communist so frequently that we instantly assume a defensive posture; our walls go up, our ears close, and we turn away. Christ's command to love your brother is something entirely different than an edict from the government, confiscating the fruit of our labor by threat of force, siphoning off a significant portion of what is taken, and then distributing what remains to others in order to maintain power. One is love, the other is extortion. And we are so heavily extorted in the name of charity, that it has the natural effect of making us despise charity.

    Properly understanding this command requires us to set aside the political issues of the day (which is much more difficult than it sounds) and focusing exclusively on God. For me, this means a very intentional clearing-of-the-mind and a suppression of my intuitive responses.

    Next, consider who you are commanded to love. At some point, I want to do a deep dive (getting into the Hebrew and Greek) on the differences between brothers, neighbors, and enemies. Brothers and neighbors seem to get lumped together frequently in theological discussions, but they are not the same. My brothers are Christian, my neighbors may not be. And enemies do still exist. There were plenty of enemies throughout the Bible, and they frequently got a good smiting. Some people are evil and dangerous, and make themselves your enemies. When that happens, the best love you can show them might be praying for them as you squeeze the trigger. It definitely does not mean coddling them; assisting them in doing evil; or even standing by while they do evil. But we are told to love our neighbors, which extends beyond the little flock within our own church.

    We are told to help "the poor," but how do we identify the poor? The Census Bureau has a really simple formula for poverty: it's the bottom 20%. So no matter how wealthy we become as a nation, by definition the bottom fifth will always be poor. That's a stupid definition. Already, 100% of our poor people are adequately fed. We provide shelter, hot water, indoor plumbing, medical care, and more. Travel back in time two centuries, and our "poor" are better off than 90% of the population was back then. Maybe "needy" is a better word. We see people in need all of the time. The lady broken down by the side of the road with an infant to care for might be quite well off, but at that moment in time she still qualifies as needy. Cell phones have destroyed some of our chivalry, because now we often assume that anyone can just dial a number and help will come for them. Something I appreciated about Alaska was that people still stopped to help, because they didn't assume that you had cell coverage.

    My profession makes it very easy to find people who are needy. Whether they made a bad decision or they are falsely accused, they need help dealing with the system that threatens to crush them. I have found a way to combine my missions and work simultaneously as a criminal defense attorney and also a Christian missionary. I don't talk to 100% of my clients about God, but most of them hear the gospel at some point. That's how I love. Nobody would describe me as an effusively affectionate guy. I'm not a hugger. But I can love by serving, and I serve with the skills that God gave me. I'm a damned good trial lawyer, and I will use those skills to help people.

    Depending on what you do for a living, it may not be easy to figure out how to use your work as a service to others. And maybe work isn't the way at all. Maybe you just go to work to pay the bills, and you serve others in your off time. But service is how you fulfill the command. You may never like people, but you can still love them, and that's what God wants from you.
    Virtute et Armis

  2. #2
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    Most translations read :"Love your neighbor as yourself." That's harder still for me to grasp and to practice.
    Warrior for the working day.

    Es una cosa muy seria. --Robert Capa

    "...I rode the range in a Ford V8...Yippy Yi Yo Ki Yay." --Johnny Mercer (as modified)

    "What cannot be remedied must be endured."

    Vale et omnia quae.

    P:28

  3. #3
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    This sort of derails the thread before it even gets started, but I think it calls out a useful distinction.

    Quote Originally Posted by LawDog View Post
    The Census Bureau has a really simple formula for poverty: it's the bottom 20%. So no matter how wealthy we become as a nation, by definition the bottom fifth will always be poor. That's a stupid definition.
    You switched terms.

    Here is the income breakdown (which I will return to later) for 2020 (because 2021 is still being figured out): https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/stat...come-quintiles

    Here is the *poverty* thresholds for 2020: https://www2.census.gov/programs-sur...s/thresh20.xls Also "poverty guidelines" for 2021 (added for completeness) https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-...rty-guidelines

    These are essentially independent variables. We are going to see poverty levels grow faster than income over the next 2 years.

    A *lot* of organizations draw the distinction between being poor, and living in poverty. The distinction would go something like "Being poor means living at the lower end of the economic spectrum", while "living in poverty means having insufficient resources to acquire and retain shelter, food, clean water and adequate clothing".

    A friend (and former contributer here) worked a dish washing gig in High school. One of his co-workers had zero ambition in life. He just wanted time to read books. So he worked part time, which gave him enough money to rent a studio apartment and buy books at the local used book store. He was poor, but he had *slightly* more than he needed to live on. Mostly because he was content to eat at that level. Almost no one here would be willing to live like that...although days like this it does have an appeal...

    He was poor in material things, but he was not living in poverty--even though he may actually have had an income below the poverty line. At that time one could buy quality second hand clothing with lots of life left for pennies on the dollar. Buy ingredients in bulk rather than prepared foods. Heck, he was washing dishes, might be able to eat one or two meals a day on the job.

    I will make a rare categorical statement (at least rare for me). Everyone living in poverty in the US today is either there by choice, or is mentally ill.

    Travel back in time two centuries, and our "poor" are better off than 90% of the population was back then.
    I would argue that everyone in the US who isn't *both* mentally ill AND living on the street is doing better than anyone 200 years ago. Antibiotics, vaccines, toothpaste, flush toilets, refrigeration.

    I can't really speak to how a Christian should or would help in today's world. But an uncle of mine helped a newly immigrated family rebuild the front of their house--which was falling off. His wife volunteered at the St. Vincent De Paul society, and personally delivered carloads of groceries, at least some bought with their own money, and wrote *personal* checks to pay for rent and utilities for needy families in their community. My uncle also used to plow the sidewalk *for his whole block*, well into his 80s. This is when he knew he had a potential aneurysm the artery leading from his heart. One time he missed a snowfall for some reason or other. The next time he was doing the walks a woman came out to berate him for not doing his job. He just looked at her and said "Sorry about that maam. Call city hall and tell them that <name> didn't get your walk plowed like he was supposed to". The punchline is that in his business life he'd been a rather big time contractor and it's likely that people at city hall knew his name.

    I suspect if one were to aim at that as something to live up to, it would be as good a target as any.

    There's also a lot of people in this world that want a handout, not help. Know the distinction.

  4. #4
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    My brothers I know by name and face. All my brothers are warriors and capitalists. Some are sisters too.

    I have no brothers who are communists or terrorists...or who support their movement. Those people I despise. I would sip my espresso while they sank into quicksand screaming for help.

    If that is a sin...I will be comfortable in that sin...unrepentant and defiant.

    My circles are tight...quite unChristlike I imagine...but I am not Him.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  5. #5
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    In Romans 12 it deals with relationships, to God, to ourselves and to others.
    We can't truthfully love ourselves without loving God first. We can't really love others without loving ourselves and God first.
    Maybe one of these days I'll figure this out.

  6. #6
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    I'm not a 'people person', this, however, may seem contradictory, for a physician. I do 'serve' humanity, granted for financial compensation, but still provide services, despite others ability to pay. Many docs do provide 'pro bono' work, if I may steal the legal terminology. Despite my profession, I have never been able to 'love my neighbor', I tolerate some, ignore others, and truly despise most at present due to their thieving political ideology. One does not necessarily have to love their neighbor, one can tolerate and do no harm.Tolerate up to a point. In the 'youthful', perhaps naive, phase of my career, I did struggle with this but became quite skeptical after my internship.

  7. #7
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    The 'capitalist' thing, to me, is pretty Christian to begin with.

    Do you offer a fair price for a good service/product? Do you purposefully CREATE an environment in which you can exploit others (old UK or American businessmen purposefully using banks to force people out of their homes or businesses through government corruption, manipulation, lies or deceit)? Do you condict your dealings with other men justly and fairly?

    If you can be honest with yourself in answering the above, you will have your answer to how Christ-like' you are in your business dealings.

    Some people seek success for success' sake, in by so doing they can improve themselves hopefully. Others seek riches and glory in order to be 'better' than others. Jesus gave us an example to follow; even though he WAS better, he lifted up others and did not seek his own sense of self-agrandization by putting down someone else.

    Not everyone is your neighbor.

    And Jesus didnt say to give your shit away to your enemies (nor allow them to hurt you) but pray for them. Ok. Lots of 'Christians' get that back asswards.

    The pursuit of money does have the tendency to spoil one into ignoring the REALLY happiness producing things in our lives like steong friend and familial relations, but having money or seeking better quality of life arent sins.

    Smashing down someone else to raise up yourself is, however, and we see this ALOT through all of history and today.

    'By the sweat of thine OWN brow though shalt eat thy bread'.

    There is no limit on the amount or quality of said bread given.
    Last edited by Ryan Taylor; 04-28-2022 at 06:36 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by henri View Post
    I'm not a 'people person', this, however, may seem contradictory, for a physician. I do 'serve' humanity, granted for financial compensation, but still provide services, despite others ability to pay. Many docs do provide 'pro bono' work, if I may steal the legal terminology. Despite my profession, I have never been able to 'love my neighbor', I tolerate some, ignore others, and truly despise most at present due to their thieving political ideology. One does not necessarily have to love their neighbor, one can tolerate and do no harm.Tolerate up to a point. In the 'youthful', perhaps naive, phase of my career, I did struggle with this but became quite skeptical after my internship.
    You may.

    There's nuance here, but you're essentially tracking with LD:

    "But I can love by serving, and I serve with the skills that God gave me."
    Warrior for the working day.

    Es una cosa muy seria. --Robert Capa

    "...I rode the range in a Ford V8...Yippy Yi Yo Ki Yay." --Johnny Mercer (as modified)

    "What cannot be remedied must be endured."

    Vale et omnia quae.

    P:28

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by henri View Post
    I do 'serve' humanity, granted for financial compensation.
    There is no inconsistency between serving and being paid. You don't have to volunteer all of your labor for free and live like a pauper.

    I sometimes find absurd the extent to which we as a society prostrate ourselves and put certain others up on a pedestal for their "service." Soldiers, police, teachers. I have no animosity towards these professions, but I also don't view them as inherently morally superior positions. I've known too many people who joined the Army because they had no better option, and they spent their career washing tanks or shuffling papers, and they are always the first ones to ask about a military discount. It's rare to find a teacher who doesn't complain about the pay, but they took the job knowing its pay, and they only work half of the year.

    There are, though, a fair number of people in these professions who are truly serving. They sacrifice; they go above and beyond; and if they wanted to just chase dollars, they could make more doing something else. Those individuals are truly serving, and it's not because they give back their paycheck every month. Pat Tillman accepted every dollar the Army paid him, and it was still the clearest act of sacrifice that most of us can imagine.

    Working in one of those jobs where you constantly get a pat on the back for your service doesn't mean that you are actually serving. And having a high-paying job in a competitive field doesn't mean that you are not serving. It's the little things you do through the week that decide whether you are actually serving or not.

    Added thought:

    Today, most missionaries are full-time ministers. They go around collecting donations to fund their mission, and if they can't get enough donations then they cease mission work. But that is not the model of missions that we have in the Bible. The Apostle Paul is our most-documented first generation missionary. He went around collecting donations, but not for himself. He collected donations traveling through gentile lands, to help the Christians in Israel. A Jew who accepted Christ, and who lived in Greece, could still make a living doing whatever he did. But a Jew who accepted Christ, and who lived in Jerusalem, was cut off from the synagogue and no one would do any business with him. He faced starvation, along with his family. Paul accepted donations to help those Jews who were still in Israel, and who were suffering financially because of their acceptance of Christ.

    Paul funded his own life by working as a tent-maker. He traveled with his tools and worked along the way. He was not dependent on others to feed him. He pointed out this fact several times in his letters, because it helped to show that he was not spreading the gospel simply to enrich himself. (I'm looking at you, Joel Osteen.)

    When Lottie Moon traveled to China as a missionary, she had no financial support. She just went to China and started working, and spread the gospel along the way. As she got older and found the work no longer manageable, she did come back to the states and helped establish a structure for funding missionaries in the way that is common today.

    There is nothing wrong with funding missions through donations. In fact, it's a wonderful model for Americans, because our dollars go so far in other countries. It makes little sense for an American to travel to Nicaragua and take a job for $400 a month, when a very modest donation will allow him to devote himself to evangelism full-time.

    But Paul's model still works, too. You don't have to be a full-time missionary. You don't have to go around collecting donations. You can support yourself and search for ways to serve God through whatever it is that you do. And you might be able to make a lot of money doing it. Doctors and lawyers are ideal positions for this. Imagine how many opportunities an oncologist would have to speak to people about salvation. As a defense attorney, I'm constantly in contact with people who are ripe for a talk about Jesus. Truett Cathy found a way to serve God by serving fried chicken. You may have to search for it, but you can find a way to serve God through whatever you do.
    Last edited by LawDog; 04-28-2022 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Added thought
    Virtute et Armis

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