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.”
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.
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,