The expression “Love me, love my dog” came to life when my wife and I got a puppy—a first for me. We adore Sophie and she adores us. Actually, she adores everyone. She is not only one of those hyperactive toy breeds, but also one that is famously sociable. She starts wagging her tail as soon as a new person enters her world, and within a second or two her tail is wagging the rest of her so hard that she nearly comes unglued. If the new person so much as acknowledges Sophie’s existence, she gets even more excited and eager to “bond.” This is when we find out who loves dogs and who doesn’t.

I’m about to make a larger point, but before I do, another little story that I think most parents will be able to relate to. When my children were small they acted, well, childish. They whined and cried over the littlest things, spilt more food and drink than they swallowed, broke stuff out of clumsiness and curiosity, and as soon as they were old enough to understand boundaries, began pushing them. I loved them anyway. They could be annoying, even aggravating, but they were only children, after all, and this was all part of the learning, maturing process. Plus they were mine. What really annoyed me was when others let their annoyance show. “Love me, love my children.”

In that context, the connection between the two rules for life that Jesus said encompass all the rest—love God, and love others[ See Matthew 22:37–39.]—becomes clearer. “Love God, love those He loves,” which is everyone. If we truly love God and believe that He created us in His own image, as the Bible says, we will love and respect each of His creations enough to try our best to understand and accept him or her—faults, foibles, and all.