Jesus said: “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”
To receive another person is to honor him. To fail to do so is to hold him in contempt. The prophet and righteous man were singled out because they have more to offer and their reward has a higher perceived (or actual) value. But the application of this truth is actually broader, including more than the prophet or righteous one. Because of the inherent value in all persons, everyone, great or small, has something to offer, and none of us are so complete that we cannot gain from this offering. By honoring another person we are blessed/increased – we get to take part in his glory. And is not the opposite also true, that I am diminished when I disdain or criticize another?
We are enriched by what we love – the things and people that we love and include in our lives create depth, add color, and produce life. On the other side of the coin, we are diminished by the things and people that we hate: what we hate or fear detracts from the quality of our lives whenever we encounter or even think of them. Thus, contempt in all its forms is damaging and forces limitations on the one practicing it. Even small things, such as a strong dislike for certain types of weather, can have a significant negative impact on us.
But there’s more: I am not only enriched by what I love, but also by the act of loving. Love is freeing: fear and hatred result in bondage. Love unites, while hate divides.
To be clear, with things, the benefit of loving is not all-inclusive. There are things that we must not love – out of obedience to God. Then there are things that we should not love – in wisdom (the good things in life can keep us from the best things in life). But loving people – there are to be no exceptions. If my heart and life are enlarged by the things that I love, they are even more so by the people that I love.
I love this line from the movie Chocolat: “We can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include”.
I agree wholeheartedly; I want to be identified with what I love – my passions, not what I am opposed to. And I will endeavor to hold no person in contempt, and to more consistently say “No” to negativity
Fall color at a spillway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
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