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Archive for June, 2012

Love Your Neighbor

Of all the commandments given to us by Our Father, they all can be summed up into one, two-part commandment – Love{agape} God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and love{agape} your neighbor as yourself. {Matthew 22:36-40}

Who is our neighbor? Neighbor has two very broad definitions – it can either mean someone who lives near you or it can simply imply ‘your fellow man’. It’s safe to say that God expects us to love all people because He made all people and He is love and expects us to be conduits of His Love.

Have you ever noticed that, in most cases, it’s really easy to be patient, gentle, kind and loving to complete strangers? You offer a smile, a wave, a friendly word to the cashier, bank teller or barista and most of the time it’s not even difficult. Wow, so this ‘love your neighbor’ thing must be pretty easy then huh? 

What about your friends? Are you gentle and kind with them? What about your very best friend? Do you ever find yourself ‘getting comfortable’ in that friendship and not always putting your best foot forward, letting your hair down and letting how you really feel come out because, if we can’t be ‘real’ with our friends then who? What about your family? How ‘real’ do you get with them? When you interact with your parents, siblings, spouses and children, do they see how you ‘really’ feel? Is that an expression of God’s love; or an outlet for the anger, frustration, disappointment and failure to flow? How do you respond when your husband doesn’t pick up the milk you asked him to pick up on his way home from work? If your child brings home an ‘F’ or refuses to clean their room, what’s your reaction? Of course you should correct your child or communicate disappointment to your husband, but those messages should not be laced with poison either. Does God correct us with a little bit of poison in His love? NO! What if your lunch order is wrong and you have to take it back? How many times have you screamed at the cook and called them lazy, stupid or good for nothing? I hope most of us are answering that we’ve never acted that way in public, but I’m sure there’s more of us than we’d ever admit that have reacted this way to our spouses, children or other close loved ones. Have you ever wondered why you treat total strangers with love and respect but find yourself venomous at times with your immediate family?

What if ‘love your neighbor’ means, first and foremost, to learn how to express God’s Love {agape} to our immediate family, living in our home? Maybe our first priority in this life is to simply walk in love with our parents, siblings, spouses and children in that gentle Godly way, regardless of the expectations we had that we perceive they’ve failed at, how unfair we’re being treated by them, how heavy the burden is to love and care for them or how hot their tempers are?

Why should strangers get our very best but the people who we love the most, who love us the most and will be in our lives for our entire journeys (hopefully) get the bottom of the barrel? Why? Possibly because we have yet to ‘be real’ with God about our behavior and ask Him to fill us in those deepest places with His love. We need to pursue with a passion to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God’ so that ‘all these things’ – the fruits of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22}, reflections of God’s Agape Love {1 Corinthians 13: 4-8} will radiate from us like a beacon in the dark! Women need to ask God to mold us into a Proverbs 31 woman so our worth will be ‘above rubies’ and evident to all and men need to pursue to be made into the examples set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and the book of Titus. When we received salvation, it meant more than a ticket to heaven. These are the qualities, characteristics and life-preservers salvation gives us in this earthly life. We must go to God and ask Him to ‘work out’ {Philippians 2:12-13} the salvation that He put in us so that the fruits of His Spirit will shine and our gentleness will be evident to all! {Philippians 4:5} Yes, we are absolutely called to be a light to the world and to Love every human with the Agape Love of God – but first and foremost I believe we’re called to Agape Love our immediate family. They are our training ground for the rest of the world – if we fail at home, how can we succeed in the world? If we can’t seek God’s face and ask for His reaction to be ‘our’ reactions in the face of the harshest treatment from the people we love the most, how can we really expect to be a genuine and sincere example of God’s Agape Love to the rest of the world?

 

 

 

 

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