I truly believe we have been commissioned to shine the light of Jesus by loving our neighbors. I’m not just talking about the guy that lives next door but anyone and everyone that we interact with every day.
Throughout the bible there is one common theme, which is to love others just like he loved us. It’s not always easy; people are human, imperfect and often at different places in this journey of life. (Mark 12:31)
People will disappoint you, they will hurt you and they will most certainly let you down. Finding a way to love them in spite of all that is exactly what Jesus wants you to do. After all, he did the same for you.
So, how do we do that? Start small. You can’t fake genuine love, compassion and acceptance; it truly starts with caring for the person right in front of you. (Romans 12:9)
Kind words: If you’re anything like me you might find that you’re mouth has a tendency to get you in trouble. Even though I usually mean well sometimes I say things, that I learn later on, didn’t sit well with someone else. You can’t please everyone but you can be aware of the words you’re using and be a voice of kindness and encouragement to others. I’d shy away from using humor at the expense of someone else and make a conscious effort to lift others up. People who don’t know you will size you up based on the things you say. (Proverbs 15:1)
Leave judgment at the door: Who are you to judge another? Seriously! I’d bet if someone looked hard enough they could find a thing or two to condemn you for. People have different backgrounds, life experiences and are walking their own path with Christ and you have no right to lay judgment on another. Correction can only come from a solid relationship built on love, trust and respect. Next time you’re tempted to judge someone for their choices, I encourage you to try showing them love instead. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Meet someone’s needs at every opportunity: Life is tough and families can easily find themselves in need through circumstance, poor choices or simply God’s will. Take action when an opportunity presents itself to meet someone’s immediate need. Whether it’s lending a cup of sugar, offering to drive to an appointment or providing groceries you can rest assured that your efforts probably mean more to them than you could ever imagine. If you’ve ever been in need, think to yourself what a difference it would have been to have a helping hand. Make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons and using it as an opportunity to build someone up; don’t ever make someone feel inferior or less because of it. And if you’re expecting something in return, don’t bother. (Deuteronomy 15:11)
Build a relationship: I’m always surprised that many people would rather donate money or material things rather than their precious time. If you truly want to love your neighbor I encourage you to open up your home and heart to others. So many in this world suffer from loneliness and friendship can be life altering for so many. You might even find that it changes you for the better. Reach out for the purpose of connection and rid yourself of any agenda. All it takes is a simple Hello to get the ball rolling. (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10)
Pray: Pray every single day. The more time you spend with God the more you’ll find yourself able to exemplify God-like behavior. Prayer offers preparedness and can give you the knowledge you need to be able to serve others while energizing your spirit. Pray for your thoughts and actions, pray for your neighbors and then pray some more. (Ephesians 6:18)
Every day we are given the opportunity to love others. As parents, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, friends and neighbors..we can make a difference just by showing we care. It’s easy to turn and walk away but if everyone did that, what kind of legacy would we leave for our children?