Monday, February 28, 2011

Am I loving my neighbor?

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fullfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:8-10

If we are respecting and honoring our neighbor are we ever going to owe them anything? That's a good question. Don't we owe others the same respect and love that we ourselves want? You know, we may not like our neighbor, but we are to love them. Love them as ourselves. Lets think about that for a minute.

We can often look at our neighbor and say, "Wow, they didn't even say hello to me." Now, did we take that step to say hello to them? Why are we so offended if we ourselves did not take that step? We look upon others and tend to see every fault, but when it comes to ourselves what is it we see? What is it we say? We want to be accepted. We want to be loved. We don't want others looking at our faults. We want the chance for someone to get to know us. We want others to see the beauty within our hearts. Not pick apart every detail they do not like or understand.

We love ourselves pretty much. Wouldn't you say? We take care of ourselves. We feed ourselves when we are hungry. We can even spoil ourselves. We enjoy loving ourselves and we want others to love us back. So, why is it so hard for us to do the same for others? Why do we not turn our eyes  to the heart of man instead of seeking out flaws?

Adultery? Murder? Stealing? Coveting? Bearing false witness? All things we do to our neighbor without thought. All things we try to protect ourselves of others doing to us. Adultery can be with anything. Not just our neighbor's spouse. We can lust over the things they have and find ourselves coveting what we wish we had. Why should they have it and not ourselves? Murder? Oh, yes, we have all committed murder. Murder is hate within our heart. If we hated we have murdered. Lying? Are you kidding me? Anyone ever come to your door and you didn't answer because you knew who it was? Ouch. I have. Ever let your phone ring and not answer because you don't want to talk to the person on the other end? Yikes. Guilty as charged. We say we aren't home, but we are. We say we are busy, but all we are doing is tending to ourselves.

Kind of changes those commandments doesn't it? Ever notice the first five are all about God and our relationship with Him and the last five are all about man and our relationship with our neighbor? We look at the commandments with one eye on the Word and the other eye looking away because we don't want to admit that yes indeed we have committed those very acts of sin not only against God, but against our neighbor.

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels." Hebrews 13:2

Love does no harm to your neighbor. Hmmm. When it is storming ever check on your neighbor to make sure they are okay? When you see them working outside on their vehicle ever ask if they need some help? Ever see your neighbor with a walker struggling to get their mail and just watch them walk up the cold drive while you watch out the window from your warm seat? Ever give up your seat for someone else? Offer a neighbor a ride? Take them lunch when you know they are ill? Sure, if they are our friends we go out of our way. It's easy to love our friends, but it doesn't say love your friends. It says love your neighbor.

To sum it all up. If we love our neighbor we are loving God. If we are not loving our neighbor. Well, you can see the point. God should be in every action we do. Every thought. Every motivation. We just don't reach out to people. Long ago when someone new moved into a neighborhood what happened? Someone took them a pie and said hello. Maybe another invited them over for dinner. You took the time to get to know your neighbor.

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12

Our example on loving our neighbor comes from Jesus Christ. He showed the Father's love to all He met. He cared. He had compassion. He served with a thankful heart. He reached out to those no one else saw important. He gave time. We are to be Christ-like to everyone we meet.

If our neighbor's home was on fire what is the first thing we would do? We would call 9-1-1 as quickly as possible. We might even run out to make sure they were out of that burning house. So, how many times do we share the gospel of Christ with our neighbor? If they do not know Christ as their Savior they are in a burning house. We can show them the way out. We can love on them. We can be friendly and give the same respect and love that we too would want if we were in a burning house. Do we wish to wait for that house to go down in flames and  see our neighbor say the words across the fence row, "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you share what you knew about Jesus with me?"

Friends we are to share Jesus with everyone we meet. That is a lot of people we pass in a day. They should know shouldn't they? Someone took the time to tell you about Jesus. May we be the neighbor who reaches out in love. Not the neighbor who just peeks out the window.

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:4
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