I have discovered a new tool in behavior modification. Well, it's actually an old tool and I've known of its existence many years now--it's a Bible verse--but I've never meditated on it in my life so much until lately. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." Reading that verse always causes me to reflect and evaluate a bit over life just past, in terms of how I've treated others, but I think pulling it out and meditating on it is of great benefit.
It in fact reminds me of a story I remember reading a long time ago (I don't remember any colorful details, anything but the main gist) about a teacher who had students bring pictures or drawings of people they didn't like, and they could throw darts at them. The teacher set up the pictures and they made their attacks with gusto. Then the teacher peeled back the pictures and behind each picture, chock full of holes, was an artist's rendition of Jesus' face--likewise mangled.
This verse illustrates that it's not a question of what we would do, how we would behave, if Jesus were physically in the room or because He is always there spiritually, but that what we do to, for, or about anyone, we are doing to, for and about Him--whether positive or negative. As this verse would indicate, we as Christians represent Christ as we respond to those around us, and Christians around us represent Christ to us in how they receive, or are impacted by, our response.
Well, it's amazing how this one verse, applied to any particular interpersonal relationship, convicts of sin, encourages proper attitude, and requires excellence. I wish I could always remember to apply it to my every thought and word to or about any person that I have met. How it would improve my attitude many times over! And I could be happier to think Jesus would not be bearing the sorrow over my sin, or over any pain I caused another. When we persecute or sin against others, we cause Him pain--when He introduced Himself to Saul in Acts 26:14, referring to Saul's attacks on Christians, Jesus said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" The persecution was a personal attack on Him, because it belonged to His own body of believers.
If there's any verse that brings vivid color to loving your neighbor as you love yourself (the second greatest commandment, Matthew 22:39), for me, and I should recite it every morning, noon and night, it is "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." The Christian should be a bright, visible, appealing applicator of this verse in every relationship.