Who is the neighbor you find the most challenging? It’s not the one who loves you back. It’s not the one who reciprocates with a meal invitation or the one who waters your plants for you when you’re off on a trip. It’s not the neighbor across the state or the country or the world who sends you a Christmas card or calls you once a year. It’s the one who doesn’t love you back. The one who doesn’t reciprocate. The one who doesn’t seem to know how to reach out to others. The one who needs us to love them the most – expecting (and receiving) nothing in return. Do you have such a neighbor? How do we love THAT neighbor?? I Cor.13:4-7 tells me how (In Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”).
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
When I love my neighbors with THAT kind of love, keeping my ears tuned to God, asking for God’s help discerning the best way to help THAT neighbor, then I can be sensitive and listen with my heart. I can give while preserving the dignity of the recipient. I can try to deliver to THAT neighbor a much-needed touch of God’s grace.
Most gracious God, who gives me enough grace to feel it overflowing, teach me to share. Help me love THAT neighbor Your Way.