Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise Him All Ye Little Children"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 5:43-44 – You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (ESV)
As the tour bus wound through the Galilean countryside into the Golan Heights, our guide pointed out the bright yellow signs posted on wire fences along the road: Danger! Mines! — in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. Mines are still buried in the fields from as long ago as the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israelis and Arabs desperately fought each other.
Then she told us an amazing story that I doubt was featured on the nightly news. During the conflict, injured enemies ended up in Israeli territory, either as prisoners or refugees. Regardless of their nationality, the Israelis took them into their hospitals, treated their wounds or illnesses, and gave them food and shelter. This was a source of much wonder to those who perceived the Israelis as "the enemy". Our guide said that it changed many attitudes.
Matthew 22:37-39 – And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (ESV)
"All" is repeated three times in these verses. Somewhere, I heard the saying, "All means all — and that's all there is to it." Loving the Lord our God is a total commitment — no holding back. In my Bible, I underlined mind, to help me to remember that it's also a deliberate choice. I have to focus on it and make a conscious decision to implement it.
Loving our neighbour is an extension of that choice. It should overflow out of our love relationship with our Lord and into the lives of all those around us. (There's that word again!)
So, who is my neighbour? It's easy to love people who treat me well or who have pleasant personalities. But what about the others? Is it the stranger I encounter at the store who might need comfort or attention — but I'm in a rush? Is it the person down the street whose habits bother me? Is it my friend who is having a bad day when I have too much to do to comfort her? Is it a family member who unloads all his problems on me? Is it that person I work with on a job or committee whose ideas don't mesh with mine?
If the Israelis could give shelter and sustenance to their enemies in the midst of an intense war, I should be able to look beyond my own selfish concerns and reach out to those around me to demonstrate God's love wherever it is needed, regardless of attitudes, actions, habits, or nationality. Will you join me in this effort?
Prayer: Father, help me to be loving, not just to those who love me or who please me, but to those whose lives may be difficult, whose personalities may be prickly, or who may be in situations that I'd rather not get involved in. Help me to think Your thoughts and model Your actions to all around me. Amen.
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A good challenge, Sharon.
Good reminder to all of us.
Very good teaching as always
Thanks. How often I need this reminder. God Bless Happy Easter.
Well done Sharon, a great word.
Thanks, Sharon, for your thoughts/reflections on “neighbor.”
Yes, totally love (Agape) God, and then our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors (filios). Thanks for this timely devotional reminder.
Sharon – hope you and your family are doing well in this crisis.
Thank you for your message. A tall order for us to love ALL.
Dear Sharon, I so enjoyed your devotional tonight. I pray I too will be more loving to those around me. Your devotional helps to inspire me to do better each day.
Blessings to you.
Thank you for this devotional. So true what we need to do, and I did not know about the kindness shown when a war was going on. Amazing.
Thank you for an inspiring and thoughtful devotional reminding of us the message that God has given us in his Word. It definitely is not an easy message to follow but can lead to great change in our world. May you feel God’s arms around you today.
Oh boy, you hit the nail on the head with this overview of true love and caring, so relevant in today’s environment.
Huge Hugs for you for sharing.
Will print this one off and frame it.
Well told, Sharon, especially the little details of how caring works against a background of difficulties. I know all about the pricklies by now. What a blessing God intends for us through them as we encounter and rub up the wrong way against this one and that one, throughout our lives and learn what generous loving is all about. Grateful for your concrete reminders.
Thanks for this very mindful devotional today. A good reminder, especially at this time of this rampant virus, that we really need to pay more attention to our “neighbour” and be kind to one another. We never really know how doing a very simple gesture may be an enormous help to someone who is suffering a major crisis in their life. Following the Lord’s great commandment brings joy to both sides.
Blessings for your thoughtfulness in submitting this writing.
Thank you so much for your inspiring, edifying Devotional, especially during these stressful times! I like the part about choosing to be kind and involved. It is a choice! I have to be reminded of this! And, yes, we would not have heard of the Israeli kindness as it doesn’t usually fit the narrative. Again, thank you so much!
Blessings and Joy,
Thank you, Sharon. I needed that today. I have a next door neighbour whom I have tried to be kind and loving too for 50 years but for some reason things go along wonderfully and then she stops speaking to me for no reason that I can figure out. Her husband and son are fine and very friendly.
I just find this a very difficult situation as a Christian who has always been friends with everyone.
Guess I will have to continue to show her my love and hope things change again soon.
Good morning Sharon,
A really good lesson for all of us, but for those having lived through and seen the atrocities of the second world war it was hard to do.
Thank you for writing.