…and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
In a famous story from the Jewish Talmud, a man went to the great rabbi Hillel and told him he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel took up the challenge and said,
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.
That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation of this—go and study it!
It is simple, really. Despite all the do’s and don’ts, the shalls and shall nots, religion at it’s best is simple. Be kind. Do unto others, or don’t do unto others. Perhaps we can even say just don’t be a jerk.
Why is that so hard? I am asking for a friend, of course. Why do we get jealous of what others have or do? Why are we so easily angered over matters that are not so big a deal? Why are we never satisfied with what we have but always feel a need for more and more? Why can’t we all just get along?
Because we are human, I suppose. Some of it may be hardwired into our animal brains. Some of it may be how we are raised. Some of it may be because that is how the world works, and we need to play along or get left behind.
It may also be that we forget. We forget about God. We forget that we are ALL God’s beloved children. We forget that, as Ephesians says, God has forgiven us.
May we strive to remember. May we remember who we are and whose we are as God’s children. And may we remember to be kind, and tenderhearted, and forgiving, and not do to our neighbor what is hateful to ourselves.
It really is that simple.