St. Francis of Assisi had some interesting ideas about preaching the word of God. The ones I like best can be summarized in two quotes from him - two of my favorites. “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching” and "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
Clearly this Roman Catholic Friar knew something about "Not talking the talk unless you are willing to walk the walk" way before such a saying would become cool (kewl?). After all he died one week after turning 45 on October 3, 1226. Yet his words resonate today.
I think he would understand how I look at the second commandment given by Jesus, "Love your neighbors as yourself."
You see when I meet a self proclaimed Christian brother or sister, one of the things I do is observe closely how they treat their closest neighbor/s. How the wife/husband treats their husband/wife and children will tell you much about their heart and how they will treat other neighbors. (BTW I use this also for self examination)
Imagine a man or woman who treats their spouse unkindly. Clearly he/she does not understand their spouse is their closest neighbor deserving of the same love they have for their own self and for more distant neighbors.
I mean we have the commandment - it cannot be clearer. And our spouses and family are like the talents provided in the parable of the talents. How well one cares for the talents entrusted to his/her care - his/her family and loved ones - will tell a great deal about how the same person will love his/her extended neighbors and if any proffered love is real or not.
Or as St. Francis of Assisi might have said, "It's no use loving your neighbor unless you are loving your closest neighbors - your family."
And just to be clear here, I acknowledge family members are often times those toughest to love, but they like everyone else are our neighbors, our closest neighbors.
In loving our families our closes neighbors, we begin "walking the walk" that can lead us to loving others - neighbors further and further removed.
Perhaps in loving our families as ourselves, maybe then we can love others who are distant relatives or neighbors, and finally maybe we can love our enemies. Or as St. Francis said, “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”