I feel as though I should start with a few disclaimers:
#1. I have not owned a dog for very long, so my perspective is limited.
#2. I realize not all dogs respond like mine does.
#3. I admit a dog is a very simplistic way to illustrate a spiritual truth.
#4. I have never made several disclaimers before writing.
Now on to the lesson learned.
While I’ve only had my dog for a short time, it only took about a day to notice a particular trait in this puppy. And that is that she LOVES people. She loves being by people, being pet, being played with, just being looked at by people.
Not entirely surprising, of course. But her love stands out each time we call her name when she’s busy sleeping, or comfortably resting. Every single time she hops right up. It doesn’t matter if you want her to come to you, if you want her to go outside, or if you called her for no particular reason at all — she is happy to be called, and she enthusiastically rises to the occasion.
Now of course, the pup is not getting up entirely selflessly (or maybe not selflessly at all?). She likes attention and she is probably hoping for something good to happen… but, even amidst her self-interests, she sees it as no hassle to get up because people bring her so much joy.
And thus enters the lesson: Do I love people so much that it’s not a hassle to leave my comforts when I’m needed, wanted, or called? Very literally, do I willingly hop up from rest or sleep for the sake of those I love? Would I put whatever I’m doing aside to be with people just because I love being with them? Or does my dog outdo me in that way?
Even if my dog is entirely self-centered, the challenge is a legit one. Especially since I am called to not be self-centered (Phil 2:3-4)!
Simplistic, Yet Important
While this might be a simplistic example, the moral of the story is no small matter.
In fact, it reminds us to take serious one of the most serious matters there is. Jesus said, the second greatest commandment of all time is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 12:31). And there’s no doubt about it, we love ourselves a lot. We are willing to get up for our wants and needs. Or we will stay laying down for our wants and needs. We are willing to do just about anything for our wants and needs!
But do we willingly do the same for others? If we are going to love them as we love ourselves, that’s what we ought to willingly do.
Don’t Stop to Think, Just Love
Putting others needs before our own is rarely easy. But I wonder if our success is directly tied to our focus. If we focus on the cost of loving people, we are going to have a much harder time serving them.
Bringing it back to the simplicity of a dog…When I call her name, she jumps up because she didn’t pause to think about whether getting up is costly (though maybe when she’s old and tired she will— so the illustration may only work for a few more years).
Nevertheless, think about who you should sacrificially love— If you spend time thinking about how difficult it is to love them, you are going to excuse your way out of serving them. Instead, just focus on the person. Focus on your God-given responsibility (and privilege) to show love. Don’t think about how much the sacrifice will hurt, just get up and do what shows love!
All that to say, here’s the challenge from my dog:
Does our love for people cause us to forget about the sacrifice involved in caring for them?…or does my dog outdo us in that way?
Personally, I don’t want to be outdone by a dog!