For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:14
I opened my Bible app today to find this verse. Sounds so straightforward, so simple.
And yet, so very, very difficult.
I find it so challenging to love my neighbor.
How am I supposed to love that co-worker who seems to drive me absolutely insane and knows how to push my every button?
What about that retail employee who provided such horrible customer service to me when I was at the store?
(And what about my husband when he leaves socks on the floor for the millionth time – I know it was on purpose!)
All joking aside, I think too often I try to just like my neighbor. Liking is a lot easier. Liking doesn’t take commitment, or time, or intentional acts.
But loving my neighbor….that is something entirely different.
And what about loving that person who doesn’t give you the warm fuzzy feelings? Who may have hurt you? Who you didn’t set out to love in the first place?
It doesn’t seem that God gives us a choice to make a distinction. It doesn’t say “love only those neighbors who love you back” or “love only those neighbors who don’t drive you crazy.” He commands us to love.
God doesn’t always give us the easy path, does He? But if He wants us to choose the narrow path that leads to life, then maybe truly loving my neighbor has its own rewards.
I have so much work to do here. How do I even start?
First, I’m going to go back to my Lutheran confirmation roots to Luther’s definition of the 8th commandment talking about our neighbors…where we should defend them, speak well of them and put the best construction on everything. A good place for me to begin is to assume the best of the person in front of me and remember that they are God’s child, too.
Romans 15:2 says “Let us each please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” That seems like a do-able step that builds towards love.
But maybe the most important step is for me to start changing my heart, just as Colossians 3:12-14 says:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
God always has the solution, doesn’t He? Here’s to learning to step away from liking and into loving my neighbors.