Jesus said that of all the commandments in the Bible, two stood out as the most important. He said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” The second commandment is to love those around you as you would love yourself. How does one love oneself? Well, the person cares for the difficulties that one faces in life. The person holds certain convictions and holds them in high-esteem. The person also cares for one’s welfare; providing food, water, clothing, and help for oneself. Obviously, one’s family is an extension of oneself, so it should be taken for granted that a person would care for the members of one’s household. As Paul writes, “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”
As we examine this command, it appears that our society is losing, if not lost, the integrity of respect and love for others. Three such cases will be presented to show that respect for others is a lost ethic in our modern times.
Respect For the Difficulties of Others
My life has been greatly influenced positively by having met Cindy Smith and John Harvey. These two individuals deal with great difficulties each day. John has some issues in for which he draws disability. Cindy is a walking miracle. Doctors said that she would never walk, talk, or read. She does all three at the age of 36. Cindy suffers with cerebral palsy, a condition which makes it difficult for her to perform common tasks. Cindy has faith in God and will tell you that it was the work of God in her life that gives her strength to do what many thought impossible.
Yet despite her triumphs, many have treated Cindy as if she were some kind of freak. Teens used to laugh at her for the way she walked in high school. Today, one would like to think that things are different. But, Cindy still deals with onlookers from time to time. This is not true in all cases, but is true far more times than one would like to imagine. Without verbally expressing it, some seem to treat her as if she is a nuisance instead of the great miracle that she is.
This is not only true of Cindy, but is also true of others who deal with difficulties and disabilities. Another such case is found with Lizzie Velasquez. Velasquez, 24, suffers a condition which causes her to lose weight rapidly. Instead of supporting her and helping her find moral support, many hiding behind the anonymity of the internet have callously and maliciously voted her as the “world’s ugliest woman.” Where is the love? Where is the compassion? Where is the decency found in such comments? Well, there is none. This lack of compassion, although nothing new, has become more rampant in the information age. Have we lost our ethical foundation?
Respect For the Convictions of Others
On this site, we defend and proclaim biblical, evangelical Christianity. We have convictions for which we stand. We confront other views accordingly. But, I hope that the reader sees that we seek to do so with respect. If I, or any other evangelical Christian, lose respect and love for those who hold differing views, we are on dangerous ground. Why? It is because of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul writes, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” Love is the central tenet of Christianity. As my dad would say, “If you take love out of the Bible, you have taken out the Bible.”
We Christians have become the targets for disrespect. Becoming a Christian is a serious decision and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, many have presented Christianity as a “say a prayer, be blessed, don’t worry about doing anything else” hokey-pokey kind of philosophy. But, Christianity is much more. Being a Christian in modern times comes with a price, yet not to the degree that it comes for our Christian brothers and sisters in areas where physical persecution is a reality.
The most recent issue of Christianity Today, at the time of this writing, has an article on persecution in the workplace. The data suggests that, “36% of evangelicals are the targets of rumors and gossip at work, as opposed to 29% of all Americans (by another measure, [Christians] are almost 3 times as likely to say they’re often the target of gossip); 44% of evangelicals have been treated rudely at work, as opposed to 35% of all Americans (Born-again Christians are 79% more likely than others to say they’re often or sometimes the butt of jokes or derogatory comments); 50% of evangelicals have been lied to at work, as opposed to 42% of all Americans (Evangelicals and born-agains are nearly twice as likely to say their boss has lied to them).” This should not be a surprise for the Christian. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” This is a far cry from the wellness gospel presented by some today. Yet, we cannot be consumed in this fact, nor should we look for ways in which we are being persecuted. This can consume a person. The believer can face these uncertain times with the certainty of the presence of God in his/her life. This presence gives the knowledge that God will right all wrongs in the end.
Respect For the Welfare of Others
Earlier, Lizzie Velasquez was mentioned. The whole story, however, was not told. Not only was Velasquez voted the “World’s Ugliest Woman,” she was advised by several individuals commenting on YouTube videos of Velasquez that she should kill herself. Some even went so far, by Velasquez’s own testimony, that “she should do the world a favor and shoot herself in the head.”
Words cannot express the disdain that this writer feels for those who would write such calloused and hurtful things. But, this is not anything surprising for this writer. This is the very reason why we have posted guidelines for commenters on this website. Intellectual discourse is many times, especially online, demoted to name-calling and witty satire instead of good, solid conversation. Some will claim that we hold back information that we do not desire. In a sense, we do. We do not hide from any arguments from those who differ with us. But, we certainly do restrain and withhold comments which are deemed abusive and derogatory.
One great method of seeing the downward spiral of morality is driving in an urban environment. In many places, drivers had rather mow you down than to move over into another lane. This is nothing compared to the horrific comments that Velasquez has faced, but it is another indicator that our concern for the welfare of others is dwindling dangerously low, as a whole.
Respect for others is greatly being lost in our times. But, it must be understood that the second commandment comes on the heels of the first commandment: the love of God with one’s entire being. The second comes from the first. When one knows the love of God found in Christ Jesus, then one can share that love with others. When we grasp the true love found in God, we can then help others find their purpose. We can help others who deal with the difficulties that Velasquez and Smith have encountered know that they do have worth. They do have value. They should be loved. Maybe the world would be benefit from a little more from the teachings of 1 Corinthians 13.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
 All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Matthew 22:37–40.
 1 Timothy 5:8.
 1 Corinthians 13:2.
 “Spotlight: Persecuted (or Paranoid) at Work,” Christianity Today, Volume 57, Number 6 (July/August 2013): 9.
 John 15:18–19.
 See Velasquez’s testimony at http://www.godvine.com/Girl-Voted-the-Ugliest-on-the-Internet-Gives-an-AMAZING-Godly-Speech-3653.html. Accessed July 30, 2013.
 1 Corinthians 13:1–13.