Second Greatest?

[Here’s a post from my archives.]


Let’s play a game. Who are:

Ernst Schmied/Jurg Marmet?
John Landy?
Pete Conrad?

Each of them are among the greats in their field … and each of them is virtually unknown. Perhaps it would help to compare them to this list of people:

Edmund Hillary/Tenzing Norgay
Roger Bannister
Neil Armstrong

Norgay and Hillary were the first pair to reach the top of Mount Everest – Schmied and Marmet were the second.

Bannister was the first person to break the four-minute mile – Landy was the second.

Armstrong commanded the first successful moon mission – Conrad commanded the second.


There’s something wrong with second?

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40.)

Jesus ranked the two commandments – loving God is first and loving others is second – but he also made clear they’re inseparable. “All the Law and the Prophets” hang on them. All of the Old Testament. All of the Bible that Jesus and his friends read. All of God’s revelation to his people. All of it on the two of them together.

Here’s another thing about those commandments: loving your neighbor as yourself may come in second in comparison to loving God, but it’s gospel truth that it stands in first place in our relationships with the people God has put in our lives.

Avoiding Second-Besting – is there a right way to love everyone?

So here’s the frustrating part. I know what I like. What I don’t know is whether it’s what other people like.

Here’s what I mean. If you look in the dictionary under introvert, you would see my picture in the margin. What happens then if I, an introvert, try to love an extrovert as I love myself? Because seriously, one big way I care for myself is by getting away from crowds and noise and activity. It’s bliss to me.

Or what about when an extrovert tries to love an introvert as the extrovert loves himself or herself? Invite me to a loud party, a big night out with lots of people? No thanks. I’d more likely run off and find a quiet room to decompress in.*

So I have a few more questions, and I confess that I am looking for answers here, not offering them:

Can others appreciate the type of love we appreciate for ourselves?

Is it hit and miss as to whether they experience this as love or annoyance?

Is it their fault if they don’t appreciate our acts of love? Is it our fault?

How do you do this?

*In fact I have, on occasion. It’s a tactic that did not endear me to one of my college girlfriends. That’s what I got for dating an extrovert.

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11 Responses to Second Greatest?

  1. I think the best relationships are complimentary so it has proven in my life. As my best friend is one that in an hour conversation you might get ten words out of. Though most would say I am very gregarious.

    Funny your question reminds me of a conversation on a question I had yesterday from a friend “Can you love someone who you do not like?.” I reminded him that most of the time what we do not like in others as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said is “not inherently missing in ourselves.” Then I said “I am not sure how we can dislike and love someone deeply passionate which is the intsruction we see in 1 Peter 1:22. I think we can dislike the sin in their lives, but they are God’s creation and if they are in Christ contain Christ’s righteousness as a result we can love them deeply as 1 Peter 4:8 says and as Christ loves them. If my own depravity is ever before my eyes then it will be hard for me to see the overwhelming depravity of another. What we most often love is how they make us feel, treat us, respond to us, treat others or their qualties we see in them. As believers we need to come to love them for the Christ we see in them which is where both passages in Peter come from.”

    That was the answer I gave not sure it answers your questions however? Thought provoking though thanks!

    • Tim says:

      PB, that is an outstanding insight – what we usually love is how they make us feel, but what God wants us to do love is love them as he does.


      • By the way Tim really like that PB rather than Patrick if you have read any of the bio that was written on me I’m not really big into formality and my wife and mom say that to me when they are mad at me. It’s like when people call me Pastor Pat I usuaully reply “you know your going to make my mother very angry because she is absolutely positive my first name is Pat, just plain Pat!”

  2. Jeannie says:

    I think this is the first post of yours I ever read, Tim!

    Or possibly the second …

    Anyway thanks for re-sharing it. Again I think of the Five Love Languages, which talks about how we can determine the way others want/need to be loved & try to love them that way. Makes a lot of sense.

    • Tim says:

      “Or possibly the second …” Jeannie, you make me laugh!

      On the issue of trying to love them the way they want to be loved, what does The Five Love Languages say about people who want to be loved in ways that we can’t, or in ways that are even bad for us? It’s a conundrum.

      • Jeannie says:

        Re people wanting to be loved in ways we feel we can’t, I think the book says we can learn all of the five languages even if only one or two of them are really natural to us. But as for “ways that are bad for us” — if we are in a relationship in which loving the other person as s/he wants to be loved would be bad for us, then we need to ask the bigger question of whether we should be in that relationship at all, whether temporarily or permanently. If loving will hurt us (not inconvenience us, or require sacrifice, or challenge us, but actually HURT us), is it really love? It doesn’t sound very healthy. Those are just my thoughts — yeah, really tough question!

  3. Deanna Ratz says:

    I don’t have any brilliant answers (though I second Jeannie’s Five Love Languages comment)
    However someone just shared this link with me the other day-kind of an amusing take on interacting with introverts.

  4. Mary Anne says:

    Well, I’m an extrovert—but we also need our space from time to time and some room to recharge our batteries. Once we’ve done that . . . PARTY ON, DUDES!!! 8-D

    As for being “second” or third or last, I give you these thoughts from C.S. Lewis, in his essay “The World’s Last Night”:

    In King Lear (III:vii) there is a man who is such a minor character that Shakespeare has not given him even a name: he is merely “First Servant.” All the characters around him—Regan, Cornwall, and Edmund—have fine long-term plans. They think they know how the story is going to end, and they are quite wrong. The servant has no such delusions. He has no notion how the play­ is going to go. But he understands the present scene. He sees an abomination (the blinding of old Gloucester) taking place. He will not stand it. His sword is out and pointed at his master’s breast in a moment: then Regan stabs him dead from behind. That is his whole part: eight lines all told. But if it were real life and not a play, that is the part it would be best to have acted.

    • Tim says:

      Lewis is right, MA. That is the best part to have acted. I hope I can recognize the part God has given me to play and to carry it out under the direction of the Holy Spirit, rather than go through life moping because I didn’t get a “bigger” part that turns out in eternity not to have been so big after all.

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