Personal Lessons - Knowledge Based on Experience
“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” Romans 15:2
Who is my neighbor? Someone asked Jesus the same question in the story of the Good Samaritan. Who is our neighbor?
The verse shared with this blog goes totally against culture; especially today’s culture. We seem so focused on what we think, what we want, what we need, and what can help us that we have forgotten Christ’s teaching on being a good neighbor.
I believe the formula for being a good neighbor starts with kindness and concern; sacrifice and humility; and, of course, authentic, Christian love. We don’t seem to love much these days. We seem to exhibit a lot of hate. We mask the hate calling it “principles” or “political preferences” or “ideology.” When we think more highly of ourselves than we should and we put others beneath our feet to be stepped on and overlooked, we practice an attitude and promote an atmosphere of hate.
If we are so naïve as to think our neighbors are only those who live in homes on each side of us or perhaps across the street, we do not understand Jesus at all. Christ cared for all people. Christ laid down his life for all people. The only people who seem to rub Jesus the wrong way were the religiously arrogant and totally misguided “excluders” (those who deny someone access to or bar someone from a place, group, or privilege).
If you want to get mad at somebody, follow Christ’s example. Start with those who are barking scripture more than they’re lending a helping hand or applying a compassionate heart. This world is a rough place. We do not need more smooth talkers. We need more people concerned about their neighbors’ wellbeing rather than those concerned for their own personal platforms.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
People my age, you know – senior citizens – seem to insist on judging the generation under us. I find it interesting that we willingly judge and condemn our kids and grandkids. What’s up with that? I sit back and listen to the criticism and ugliness thinking, “The joke is on us. These ‘kids’ will be making the decisions long after we’re gone.” Truth hurts.
Research conducted by generational studies reveals that our younger generation is more social minded, service minded, and unimpressed with organizational structure. To translate, they’d rather dig water wells in third world countries as opposed to sitting in a church pew. Again, truth hurts.
Truth, reality, may not please us but Truth, Jesus, can mold us. Next time we are tempted to trash talk someone younger than us, or even older, let’s remember this verse. Sensitivity, patience, understanding, compassion and respect are byproducts of self-control, a spiritual fruit. I must intentionally choose love and unity over opinion or winning. We can disagree on earthly issues while agreeing to love one another in the spiritual realm.
Our spiritual witness begins in our minds and how we think (Proverbs 23:7, Matthew 5:21-22). Perhaps we should think of others more often. Regardless of age.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
Please read the verse. Please read it again. Again, please. Is the third time the charm? Can we hear this enough that we accomplish it or is unity an impossibility?
There is ONE WAY we can unite. Only One Way. If we focus on Jesus, we might be able to allow other arguments to play out and resolve themselves. That, or our love for one another is able to shine through and above what we don’t have in common.
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18
I need to be careful. I’m committed to seven days with no complaining. I need to ask some difficult questions. Can one be curious without complaining? We shall see.
She is the Governor of Alabama. She proudly announced her state’s decision to eliminate abortion for the women of Alabama. She’s done several news conferences proudly declaring that, in the state of Alabama, “all life matters?”
If you’re Pro-Life, you commend her, applaud her state and thank God for a victory. “One for our side - the Red side.” You proudly harbor feelings of great confidence for every life saved in the state of Alabama. You believe it’s just the start since we now have a Pro-Life President. Or so they say....
Do you remember the women? I’m just curious, Governor? Do you remember the women that will carry a baby as the result of rape and incest? Do you think about their lives? The pain they’ve endured? The ongoing victimization because of the constant reminder of the trauma? Is lessening her value and her feelings worth your bragging? Oh, I know....it’s all about the baby.
But, does her life matter?
I’m wondering about my Pro-Life friends. Does it matter to you that you support punishing a woman or young girl for your political platform’s success and victory? Does anyone care that a doctor who follows through with the wishes of a traumatized victim and the victim herself will face more prison time and stiffer sentences if they break the new law than does a rapist or father who impregnates his daughter? Just confirming - you’re okay with that since all life is valued?
Once again, Alabama proves the South is alive and well. Boys will be boys and girls pay for it. But I’m not complaining.
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
In the Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” the question is asked, “Do you hear what I hear?” The song takes us through many beautiful sounds revolving around the Christmas story.
Did you know God makes beautiful sounds all year round? Do you hear what I hear?
In Zephaniah, one of the prophetic books of the Old Testament, we are told that God sings over us! The verse takes us through aspects of God’s character. He is ever-present. He is a Mighty Warrior in the spiritual battles on earth and in Heaven. God is happy when He sees and saves His beloved children.
Even when we mess up, His love doesn’t stop. In fact, He rejoices over us WITH SINGING. God sings. Now, that’s a beautiful sound despite any darkness or heaviness this life hands us. Next time God feels far away, stop to listen. We may not actually hear Him, but we can be certain that He is singing over us! Then again, our spirit may hear His song and our lives suddenly become brighter.