Minutes With Messiah Logo

Me And You

by Tim O'Hearn

I m no fond o txtng. I probably got that wrong, but I have to remember that text is a different language than English. Text has its own syntax, spelling, grammar, and place in society. I have studied Spanish, German, and a little bit of Greek. I understand their grammar. I don’t understand text because I just haven’t studied it. What can you expect from an old fogy who has to be told how to hang up a cell phone? I do know English grammar, however. Partly because of the language of text, I have seen some things lately that make me cringe. One of my pet peeves in grammar precedes the invention of the cell phone, and even the personal computer. It shows up even in popular (or once-popular) music. Paul Simon, for instance, sang of “Me and Julio, down by the schoolyard.” As I was growing up, I had it drummed into my head that such a phrase, if in the subject, should be “Julio and I.” If in the object, it should be “Julio and me.” English grammar says that the speaker should come last. The other person should always come first. Funny thing, but that’s exactly what the Bible says, too.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” (Rom 12:10) “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Php 2:3) Jesus, and the Law, said it a little differently. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Lev 19:18; Mk 12:31) Now, some might say this is putting the other equal with you, rather than above you. Looked at from a different angle, however, it is elevating the other. If you would tend to put yourself first, by loving another the same as you, you would naturally put their interests first.

That is what love is all about. Love in the New Testament (Greek agape), and even loving-kindness in the Old Testament (Hebrew chesed) is generally interpreted as “desiring the best for another person.” Since it is an action, rather than an emotion, it might better be stated as “putting the interests of the other over your own interests.” Love, then, is an active choice. It is something that we must think about, and then act upon. Thus one can “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matt 5:44) We have to choose to love our enemies, even if we never particularly like them.

One problem with using the King James Version of the Bible is that language has changed in the last four hundred years. When Paul is translated as saying “preferring one another” we tend to think that we are supposed to want to associate with one person over another. Instead, the word means that we are to put the other forward. As in English, we give the other pride of place.

Perhaps children have to be taught this particular rule of English grammar, having it, as I put it earlier, pounded into their heads, because the tendency is to put oneself first. Children think of “me and you” because they tend to think of themselves first. As we grow in God, we need to put such thinking aside. We need to put others before ourselves. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11) “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5:13-14) Perhaps when we fail to “prefer” one another we are still being childish. We should be child-like, but not childish.