Ninety Seconds of Light: Love Your Neighbor, All of Them

I sat in church this morning and listened to the pastor talk to us about the apostle Paul. If you’ve read any of my work, you know that I am a big fan of Paul. He was wordy like me. And also like me, he got himself into trouble with his words. He meant well, he just didn’t know when to quit sometimes.

Just like me.

As the Pastor spoke he began to talk about what a difficult person Paul must’ve been before his big light on the road experience. (Acts 9:1-19) From what we can gather from scripture, he was a loud mouth, a know it all and a snob. Pretty nice guy, huh? Basically he was hard to get along with and even harder to love.

But, Jesus still did.

Thank goodness for that. He loved Paul and saw in him what others could not. Oh how grateful I am for this bit of knowledge. He loved this man when he was at his worst. That is a true love. Seeing the best even when it is not evident.

Boy, that’s hard.

Last Sunday night we watched the movie “Woodlawn” at our church. Once a month or so, we gather together in the fellowship hall, pop some popcorn, drink soda and watch a good inspirational movie. It is a great time of fellowship and I always leave there feeling happy and challenged. This night was no different.

If you’ve seen this movie, I bet you would agree with me that it is highly motivating. It spurs me on to be genuine and hardworking. It reminds me to refine my gift and not to keep it trapped inside. I love how the Pastor of the church in the movie tells the members to “let their gift out because the world needs it.”   We need each other. We each bring something different to the table of life.

That’s exactly what God intended.

But, there’s always that one person who isn’t easy to appreciate. The one whom we duck when we see them coming. Not that we should, but often we do. THAT is the person I’m guessing Paul was to some folks. Harsh, abrasive, straight shooter, not tactful nor did he seem to care to be. He refined his gift by pouring it out on others all the time, whether they liked it or not. And even though it was all motivated by love, it probably didn’t feel that way to the person he was pouring it on.

Here’s the rub.

We must love those folks. The “Pauls” in our life. The Pastor in Woodlawn went on in his message to say, “If you only love those who love you back, what kind of love is that?” My eyes welled with unexpected tears at the question he was posing to his church. It jumped right off the screen and struck me right in the depths of my heart.

Who am I loving that is difficult?

And an even harder question occurred to me, who is loving me out of obedience because I am difficult at times too? Ouch! I don’t like to think of myself that way, but if I’m honest I have to admit that I can be selfish, overly opinionated, and a lot of other unpleasant things. I need to be thankful for those who are loving me. ALL of me.

Look around, who are you loving? Really loving, not just tolerating. Let them know it. Pray and ask God to show you the good in them and ask for grace to help you with the rest.

He will give you what you need.

Prayer: Father, it is so much easier to talk about loving a difficult person than it is to actually love them.   But, talk is cheap. I’m asking you for supernatural power to look beyond the difficulty and into the deeper issues of their heart. So many times a hurt is in there that needs your healing touch. There is not a person alive that has not needed a deeper healing at some point. Give me patience, grace and help me to keep my mouth shut when necessary. I am trusting you to walk me through this one day at a time. I need you. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Scripture: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32

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