I call them Mell Notes—little comments my daughter Melissa made in her Bible to help her apply a passage to her life.

In Matthew 7, for instance, she had drawn a box around verses 1 and 2 that talk about not judging others because, when you do, “with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Next to it she wrote this Mell Note: “Look at what you are doing before you look at others.”

Melissa was an “others-oriented” teen. She lived the words of Philippians 2:4. Her classmate Matt, who knew her from church nursery through her final days in the eleventh grade when she died in a car accident, said of Melissa at her memorial service: “I don’t think I ever saw you without a smile or something that brightened up people’s days.” Her friend Tara said this: “Thanks for being my friend, even when no one else was as nice and cheerful as you.”

In a day in which harsh judgment of others seems to be the rule, it’s good to remember that love starts with us. The words of Paul come to mind: “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).

What a difference we’ll make if, when we look at others, we say, “Love starts with me.” And wouldn’t that be a great reflection of God’s love for us?