I just got this insight (and another chapter for my book).

I realize that as a parent, I have such a close bond of identification with my children that whatever happens to them it’s like it was happening to me.

Recently when my daughter received a nice gift, I felt it was as if the giver had shown me the kindness. I was so overjoyed and excited all day, and the present wasn’t even for me.

My son has been traveling recently. When people show hospitality to my son when he is away from home, it is as if they were extending their house to me.  Stuff that I want my son to receive – some attention and time, some spiritual encouragement, some advice – if anyone does that for him, it’s as if they did it for me.

How about when my children misbehave, how would I want people to respond? I would want people to treat them kindly, reprimand them gently, and take the time to get to know them and help them grow.  I wouldn’t want people to write them off, or punish them harshly.

So if you love Katy, if you want to repay me for a kindness I’ve done for you, I want to tell you, do something nice for one of my children. That would be the best gift you can give me.

I don’t feel this way about anyone else, not even my husband. But for some reason, there is that identification with my children.

What about if you are really nice to me, but you are unkind to one of my children, how do you think I would feel about you? You can give me all the expensive presents you want, but I would never be able to be close to you. In fact, I would say you’re being insincere with your show of love towards me because if you really consider me a friend, you would be at least nice to my children.

I hope you are catching on to what I’m trying to say.

I understand now what Jesus meant when he said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  When we give a cup of water to the needy, or share a bite of food with the hungry, it’s as if we did it for Jesus. He identifies with his children in the same way I identify with my children.

If we say we love God, but do not treat people well, how do you think God feels about our supposed “love” for him? What do you think is the best way to show God that we love him?

I am very mindful now of how I treat people, even strangers, even those who annoy me.  I think about how I would feel as a parent, and how it would make God feel as the Parent. If I want people to treat my children well, how much more would God want us to treat his children with love and kindness, especially those who are in need?

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