Category Archives: neighbors

Peace Fruit

Loving Others-Day 7-What About Loving People I Can’t Stand (Or Who Can’t Stand Me)

 

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others

You may have been trucking along OK with me on this loving others stuff.  We’ve talked about loving within and outside our immediate sphere of influence.  We’ve talked about how to demonstrate love to others.

We’ve seen that our “neighbor” is everybody.

So you may be asking…..

What about the “neighbor” who hates my guts?

What about the “neighbor” whose kid is bullying your kid?

What about the “neighbor” who crashed into your car and put you in the hospital because he was texting or drunk?

What about that “neighbor” who is a backstabber at work?

What about the “neighbor” who robbed your house?

What about the “neighbor” in the form of your husband’s ex from college who keeps “liking” his Facebook updates?

What about the “neighbor” personified in the parent who left when you were a child?

What about that “neighbor” who you thought was a friend but who was really gossiping behind your back?

I’ll stop here. Hopefully I’ve hit a nerve or two to make you sufficiently uncomfortable.

And you know what I’m going to say next.

Yep.  The bible says we have to love them too. It’s here….

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44

Now does this mean writing them notes of encouragement, inviting them for dinner or sending them a basket of fruit? (Hmm….we are studying fruit of the spirit…but NO…it can’t be rotten fruit).

I see this as telling us that we should be praying for them.  If you can’t do that, start by praying for YOURSELF by asking God to make you willing to pray for them.  And then ask God to help you forgive the person for whatever he or she did to hurt you.  If you simply tell God you are willing He will do the rest as you persevere.  It will most likely not happen overnight. Take baby steps.

I work on this constantly myself.

It’s tough.

Loving Others Takes Prayer

Start with a prayer for willingness, then a prayer that you can forgive, then, once you’ve forgiven them, pray for God’s best in the person’s life. (Even if part of you still thinks the best would be that they contract a prolonged case of norovirus).  Maybe God will stretch you more.

He’s done stranger things.

And He means it all as a blessing to you which we explore more tomorrow.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

 

Loving Others Day 4-Recognizing We Are In It Together

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others Through Unity of Purpose

The idea of loving our neighbor as ourselves may seem simple enough if we can relate to our neighbor.  But do we feel a common bond with people who look different than we do, or do not share our life experiences?

Loving Others: “Haves” and “Have Nots”

If we come from a family who struggled financially, do we resent the person who seemingly had advantages and status “handed” to them and do we seek to grab what they’ve got?  Likewise, if we have some material success, do we resist sharing resources with others?  Be mindful that either attitude is destructive.  A desire to cling to our “stuff” demonstrates a lack of recognition that God is the universal source of all resources.  Similarly, seeking to force others to give demonstrates our lack of Faith in God as provider. None of it is “ours” -instead it is all His.

This is the principle that we see demonstrated in the biblical practice of tithing.  We give a percentage of our income back to the “source” and by so doing demonstrate our recognition of God’s provision to us.  From personal experience, I know that this practice does immeasurable good not only to the Church and it’s work, but to our own personal finances.

We all are probably conscious of the deep divide that exists in the United States and elsewhere between “rich” and “poor.”  There have been prominent debates about what makes a person “rich” or “poor.”  We see illustrated in the life of Job a man who experiences both great wealth, status and abundance and utter desperation   In this way, we see that

“The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.”  Proverbs 22:2.

We are all therefore rich-in that God loves us all and calls us to an abundant life- and we are all poor-without God we are nothing.

Loving Others By Being Unconcerned With Our “Stuff”

If we hold loosely to what we have and use our resources to care for ourselves and our families and also give abundantly to the Church and those around us, we demonstrate Christ’s love to others!

These principles are completely separate from our tax code and system of government.  Whatever your individual beliefs about tax reform and entitlements, drop them at the door of the Church.  Because within the Church we have our own tax code-God’s word and many “entitlements”-God’s promises.  As we let elected officials argue about the role of the government and participate in that process as we are individually led, know that within the Church giving to the poor-“our neighbors” is never optional.  It’s a mandate.  Let’s do it with gratiude and love for each other! (And, for now, it’s tax deductible!)

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Peace Fruit

Loving Others-Day 3-Who is My Neighbor Anyway?

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others By Broadening our Concept of “Neighbor”

So who is my neighbor anyway?

Yesterday we got super-literal with the concept of neighbor as a roommate or someone living next door or on your street.  I think that we figured out that our minimum standard for loving our neighbor is to do for him or her what we would want someone else to do for us.

But we know Jesus was talking about more than that. That His definition of neighbor was bigger, wider and much more expansive than the person from whom you’d borrow a rake or cup of flour.  It goes beyond our city, state and nation into all the world.

We are called upon to love “neighbors” that we have never met and probably never will!

How do we love those kinds of “neighbors?”

Well, if you are in a church I am sure you have heard of missions!  Maybe you have photos of missionaries from your church on your refrigerator at home as a reminder to pray for them and support them financially as you can.

Maybe you’ve sponsored a child overseas or gave to a program that purchases cows for communities!

Maybe you want to travel yourself to a high-need area and build houses, perform medical services, teach children or share the gospel!

These concepts are not new and you might be doing all of them or none of them.

One way that you may not have thought of is loving our “neighbors” in the world is through viewing the world positively rather than negatively.  Do you frequently say or think that “the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket”  or something like that?  Do you believe the world situation headed is headed for disaster and that there is nothing you can do about it?

This thinking produces inertia, ambivalence and apathy.  Why should I get off the couch, write a check, pray or do anything when the final outcome is inevitable?

Does that sound like love?

Loving Others By Reaching FAR Beyond our Neighborhoods

Indeed the world may be headed for destruction, but that gives us even more of a reason to pray and then as God leads you, exert effort and make great haste to bring resources where they are needed.  We cannot touch every person or every situation.  However, we can identify one or two things we can do individually, as a family, church or community to love neighbors world-wide.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Loving Others-Day 2-Loving our Next-Door-Neighbors

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others-The Folks Next Door

When we think of neighbors, we generally think of the people next door. Of course, Christ means a much more universal and wide definition of “neighbor.”  But for our purposes today-let’s get literal and think about the folks next door.

Loving Others-But What If We Don’t Like Our Neighbors?

What’s your experience been with your neighbors?  Good or bad?  Some of both mixed together?  Do you aspire to live far from any neighbors, on a big plat of land or in a remote location?  Or maybe you like close proximity to others and often have neighbors in your home.

My first experience with having my own personal “neighbors” was in college.  I am an only child and frankly did not look forward to the whole roommate experience.  Probably for my growth I was paired with a girl with whom I had very little in common.  Living with her was a bit of a trial.  She was big into “hospitality” such that HER friends were always in our room. One time I cam home rather late and people of both genders were asleep in our room-with one young man asleep in MY bed, which was “against the rules.”  The result was that I was in my dorm room very little and surrendered it to her, basically.

Yet, the next year, when it came time to choose roommates  we chose one another again because at least we had figured out how to live with one another.  Unfortunately over the summer she decided she wanted to transfer so I never saw her again.  Of course I hoped that maybe I would end up with a single room, although they weren’t typically given to sophomores   Instead, I got a girl with whom I had a bit more in common but who had messy personal habits and used talcum powder as face powder which would end up coating everything in our room with the white dust.

After prevailing on the housing folks, I ended up with my sophomore year single.

These years were before I became a person of faith.  I’d hope that now I’d have a different view of both of these girls and realize that they had been placed in my life by God and that I would view them with His eyes.

My next authentic experience with my own neighbors was during apartment life, when I finally realized it was best to live on the top floor so that you did not hear the people above clopping around on top of you at all hours of the day and night  Due to the nature of apartment living, I did not really form relationships with my neighbors.

In my current life, I feel blessed to live in a great neighborhood.  People are generally quiet and considerate of one another, maintain their homes nicely and watch out for one another.Everyone has a lot of individual space, yet the neghborhood gets together cohesively fairly often and people generally get along.  When our neighborhood began experiencing some issues with crime, the community got together and began plugging into each other’s lives a bit more and watching over the property on their street-rather than just their own homes.

What about where you live now?  Do you know your neighbors?  Do you keep up with one another?    Do you realize the just like God placing us in our families, He also places us in our neighborhoods.

Loving Others in Our Neighborhood

What do you do to bless and love your actual neighbors?

You can start by praying for them to have peaceful, harmonious, healthy and prosperous homes where Christ is glorified.  You can pray for the marriages within those homes to be strengthened.

You can take meals to new neighbors and introduce yourself to them.

If you see their dog running loose down the street you try and catch it and return it home safely.

Do all of those things that you’d want them to do for you!

If harsh words have transpired between you and your neighbor over barking dogs, improper or infrequent maintenance  fence repairs or clashes about the political signs you put in your yard, pray for an opening to repair that relationship. (Or that their house sells fast if a sign goes up AND that God won’t bring you anyone worse!)

A little levity today to illustrate that loving our neighbor promotes harmony in our lives and is pleasing to God.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Fruitful Days

Fruitful Days