My neighbor isn’t the person that lives next door or down the street. My neighbor is every single person on this planet. Yes, I am my brother’s and my sister’s keeper.
Yesterday, we celebrated the life of Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. He envisioned a world where children of all colors would be able to sit next to each other in love. Although, today segregation is illegal in our country, it feels as if our country and our world is more divided than ever. The world feels infested with hate. It breaks my heart to know that so many good people died in order for all people, no matter what color or gender, could live in peace and pursue happiness. Yet, instead of moving towards that goal, we are moving backwards. We as human beings were called to love one another. It doesn’t matter what the other person looks like, what they believe or even if they love us back. Loving thy neighbor isn’t always easy but it’s necessary in order for our world to not fall into chaos and destruction.
There is still hope among all of the darkness and it’s inside of each one of us. Maybe if we stop looking at love as just a feeling but as a decision to treat someone with kindness and compassion, we can take a step out of the darkness and into the light.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 NIV
Thank You, Lord, that even in my pain, You give me strength to comfort and encourage others. Thank You for the people that comfort and encourage me. You take care of us even when we don’t know how to take care of ourselves. You are truly a good God.
“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out the workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37 NIV
Do you ever murmur and complain about the things that God calls you to do? Do you put it off because sometimes what He’s calling you to do seems so small that it’s not worth the inconvenience? Before you procrastinate doing something that God has called you to do, ask yourself if your delayed reaction will cause an answer to someone’s prayer be delayed. Ask yourself if you will be responsible for someone else to stumble.
If you put off praying for someone or something that God has put on your heart, will it mean that someone’s suffering will be prolonged? If you put off giving away something that you never use, will someone who truly needs it go without? If I hold off on giving to a charity that has touched me spirit, will it mean that someone will starve? If I don’t give someone an encouraging word, will that mean that someone will give up on life? If I decide to wait to tell someone about Jesus, will that mean that someone will spend an eternity in hell?
When God calls us to do something it is to fill a need. We are his arms, his hands, his legs and his feet on earth. We are not to just focus on ourselves. We are supposed to be following his example and loving others. Loving others means being inconvenienced sometimes. It means stepping out of our comfort zones. It means sacrificing. Someone is praying for a miracle and God maybe calling you to be that miracle. Don’t ignore his call. It is an honor and a blessing to be used by God.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones-those who believe in me-to stumble, it wuold be better for them to have a large millstone hang around their neck and to be drowned in the sea.” Matthew 18:6 NIV
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep with the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4: 1-6 NIV
It’s not my place to judge you or to look down on you. It’s not my place to manipulate you or control you. It’s not my place to harass you and make your life difficult. It’s not my place to turn my back on you when you’re in need and withhold my help. It’s not my place to tear you down or enjoy seeing you fall.
It is, however, my place to show you compassion. It’s my place to find out what I can do to help you and not how you can help me. It’s my place to let you go to allow you to learn things on your own and to let you discover your own path. It’s my place to let you see the light that God has placed inside of me. It’s my place to encourage you and to offer my hand to help lift you up. It’s my place to pray for you. It’s my place to love you.
Do you know your place? Now, before you answer that question, truly think about it. Do you really know your place and are you there? Do you realize what an honor and blessing it is that God has chosen you; that he has called you to be a representation of himself? Do you know how much it breaks His heart when you don’t stay in your place? When we hurt each other, our brothers and sisters, it hurts our Father too. I ask you again, do you know your place?
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: love each other.” John 15: 16-17 NIV
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive them their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14 NIV
When you thought no one was watching, my daddy saw everything. He saw you break my heart. He saw you abuse me. He saw when you plotted and schemed against me. He saw you stab me in the back. He heard you lie to me and about me. He heard you say that I was ugly and that no one would ever love me. He saw you try to break my spirit. He saw you laugh when I fell. He heard every curse you spoke over my life. He saw you use me. He saw you cast me aside. He heard how you talked to me like I was something stuck on the bottom of your shoe. He heard you call me every foul name you could think of.
I wanted you to pay. I wanted revenge. I couldn’t wait until you felt the wrath of my daddy. When he didn’t seem to move fast enough, I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw things. I wanted to punch and kick. Then I realize that not only was my daddy watching you, he was watching me too. He was watching to see if I would be obedient and follow his teachings. He wanted to see if I would forgive you, if I would pray for you and if I would love you. For a brief moment I forgot these things. I forgot who my daddy is.
I don’t know why you chose to hurt me. Maybe it’s because you were hurt. Maybe you’ve never experienced true love. Maybe you’ve never seen a true representation of my daddy. I would love for you to meet him. Let me tell you who my daddy is. He goes by many names, God, Yahweh, Jehovah. He is the alpha and omega. He is almighty and he is love. He forgives and shows mercy. He lifts up those who have fallen down. He heals broken hearts. Even though we fall, he still loves us unconditionally. His purpose is never to hurt but to encourage and strengthen. I was created in his image therefore, I will forgive you. I will continue to pray for you and I will never stop loving you.
“I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44 NIV
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NIV
Would you give a drink of water to someone who is thirsty? Would you give up your favorite coat to someone who is cold? Would you give your last piece of bread to someone who is hungry? Would you offer someone a place to lay their head? Would you offer comfort to someone in pain? Would you help someone up if they had fallen? Would you lay down your life to save someone else’s?
Most people would answer yes to these questions if it were a close family member or friend. However, the real question is, would those same people still answer yes if it were for a complete stranger. What if it was someone who humiliated you, lied to you, beat you, betrayed you or completely denied your existence? I’m guessing that the answer to these questions would change to absolutely not for a lot of people.
There is someone who did do those things for us despite what we did to him. His name is Jesus. He endured torture and humiliation for everyone, even those who mistreated him. He died so that we could receive salvation. He didn’t wait until we wised up and begged for his forgiveness. He didn’t wait until our attitudes changed. He asked for forgiveness on our behalf, knowing that we didn’t know any better, and he suffered the punishment that we should have received. He loves us in spite of ourselves. Aren’t you glad that he was willing to do that for us? Now, if God can forgive us after all we’ve done, why can’t we forgive each other?
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.” Psalm 41:1, NIV
What if you were granted the ability to see through another person’s eyes? What do you think you would see? Do you think that you would see that the well-to-do couple down the street is completely happy or would you see that they are stressed out because they are living above their means? Do you think you would see the little boy that has been causing trouble on the block is being told by his parents that they wish he was never born and that he will never amount to anything?
Do you think that you would see your boss gleefully finding ways to make your life difficult or instead would you see that his boss is threatening to fire him if he does not perform? Do you think that you would see that the coworker who couldn’t be bothered to say good morning to you, weeping in her car because she found out that the lump in her breast is cancer? Do you think you would see that the coworker in everyone’s business is so lonely that she is contemplating suicide?
Maybe you could see the lady that cut you off on the way home was running away from an abusive husband? Could you see that the cashier that was rude to you just buried her eleven year old son and she couldn’t afford to take time off work to properly grieve? Could you see your friend who refuses to return your calls was raped a week ago and she’s ashamed to tell you?
If you could see these things, would that change the way you felt about them? Would you still be angry and judgmental or would you pray for them? Would this be the only way you could feel compassion for them? Well, we don’t have the power to see everything that is going on in someone’s life, nor can we see what people are thinking. We all have emotional scars that we’ve caused each other and ourselves. God still expects us to have compassion for each other just as He has compassion for us. We all need to be shown love, even if we don’t show it.
As difficult as it is, before you become angry or start to complain about someone, try to take a step back and consider that maybe something deeper that you can’t see is going on with that person. Show compassion. Pray for those who hurt you because you never know what that person maybe going through.
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless; like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-36, NIV