Love Thy Neighbor

Have you ever experienced someone kicking you while you’re down?  Let me clarify…have you ever had someone who is completely unaware of the circumstances surrounding your stumble, then your fall come up and condescendingly as if they found joy in it ramp up and slam you good?  Now me…the firey redhead with chronic pain can feel the ammunition building as I lay there getting ready to turn over and fire back with both barrels.  I was really ready to that today and something stopped me…I decided to listen to the Lord instead.  He asked me…”What would I do?”

I stood there with my hands on my hips, rolling my eyes with my left foot out slightly tapping it in annoyance protesting “But…they hurt me!”  He replied…”And?…”  Ugh…it’s so much easier to just be angry!  But guess what I’ve learned.  Anger is always a second emotion that stems from another…whether it be hurt, pride, humiliation and resentment is falling in love with anger.  So I was angry because I was hurt and I wanted to retaliate.  And I love to snap back with snide intellectual if even demeaning comments that leave my nay-sayers scratching their heads and going home to find their dictionaries.  The “I just want to be mad for a little while” I tried with the Lord this morning it didn’t work because it’s WRONG! 

I started to think about the “Golden Rule”…the do unto others adage this morning so I decided to look up what Jesus actually said.  He didn’t say “Do unto others as you would have done to you.”  That’s a human spin.  He said “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  There’s a BIG difference.  See…the human version basically says if I do nothing but I am still mad at this individual in my head and harbor bitter resentment that it’s okay as long as I don’t do anything to them the way they did to me.  However…Jesus’ version tells me I have to love them as I love myself…it requires me to do something…LOVE them.  SO…would I want someone else harboring bitter resentment against me?  Uh…no!  See…it’s easier to just be mad!

I guess I’m not surprised we’ve twisted what Jesus spoke and made it into our own rule and made it golden.  We are human after all and certainly want the easy way out.  It is so much easier to hold onto a grudge than forgive someone who doesn’t even care, realize, or understand that they’ve hurt me.  It’s so much easier to hang onto resentment with thoughts like…”How dare they?  They have NO idea what I go through every single day!” or “Who do they think they are to judge me and my circumstances when they have NO idea what they are talking about!?”  For me the hardest thing to do is respond in love instead of fire back with both barrels.  It takes all of my strength and the Lord whispering in my ear the entire time to take a step back and breathe before responding…and sometimes I just have to walk away.

Yes I’m stubborn…remember red hair?…so these little lessons from the Lord are really difficult for me.  Responding in love when someone hurts me seems impossible sometimes…most of the time…okay all of the time.  But God promised in Matthew 19:26 that what is impossible for men is possible with Him.  So I’m going to trust that and pray that when I am unexpectedly kicked while I’m down I won’t fire back but respond in love because it hurts enough to be kicked once…I don’t want another heartache on top of it from the bitterness in my heart.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-39

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