Daily Inspiration - January 5: Loving our Neighbor When Its Hard
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” -Luke 6: 27-31
In a recent conversation with someone who is much smarter than me, I said the phrase “do I really have to love (insert name here)?” Although I intended to ask this is a more hypothetical and sarcastic way, we both knew I was getting to the point where I was struggling deeply with this particular situation. So, this is when my wife, Steph said, “yes, you may not like them but you do need to love them.”
Jesus takes this whole love thing very seriously. In fact, in the passage above from Luke, he wastes no time getting into how we should love and who we should love. It is written in the same chapter of Luke as the account of the Jesus calling the disciples. So, we go from Jesus calling the disciples to Jesus sharing this way of love in double time.
Yes, Jesus makes it clear that we are to love all, even those that we may not like. Even the people that are just plain difficult and rude. But, it needs to be stated unmistakably clear that this is not a loophole for people to treat you poorly. This is a not an out for treating people as less than. This is not a way to encourage somebody to keep pushing through an abusive situation.
In fact, this is the exact opposite. We are loving our neighbor when we set appropriate boundaries. We are loving our neighbor when we say no to emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual and any other form of abuse or neglect. We are showing love to ourselves, and the other person in the moment. Loving those who are hard to love does not mean that we allow the hurt to continue. Saying no is love. Listening to no is love. Praying for, and wishing healing and wholeness for someone while doing what it takes to keep yourself and others safe is love.
So, whether you are working love someone who thinks, acts, loves, serves, and lives differently than you or you are working love someone in a much more serious situation, please know that you are wrapped so tightly in the loving arms of God. You are loved. You are worthy.
Tomorrow: “Love”- More than a Word