Happy weekend, sweet gal! How’s your heart doing these days? Maybe you’re like me and feeling a little up and then down and then up again. Maybe your heart feels heavy for those in our world who are struggling even more than we are. But then again, maybe you have your own set of big problems and worries to weigh you down.
I want you to know I’m thinking about you. And I care. I’m rooting for you, too. Let’s remember that we can do hard things. And we are not alone.
Okay. Now let’s talk about the beauty of loving our neighbor and how to cultivate more of the kind of compassion that leads us to action.
The Beauty of Loving Our Neighbor
During this odd time of fighting our common enemy from our separate couches, I’ve been so inspired by those who are finding creative ways to reach over the hedges and make a difference. Haven’t you? Truly, I see beautiful women resisting the urge to shake hands or hug necks, but still extending their reach deep into their neighborhoods and beyond.
And those gestures of compassion and even simple awareness have reminded me that we all need one another. In fact, God created us to live in community, to care about more than ourselves and to have one another’s backs.
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 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. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”~ Matthew 22:36-40
What the Bible says about loving our neighbors
I’ve discovered over the years that most of us Christians are usually better at one of those commands than the other. We’re either great at loving God – devoted to Him in prayer and worship and the study of His Word and living holy, set apart lives – or we’re better at loving people – serving endlessly, going and doing and helping those who desperately need some kindness, a bit of our time, a warm meal or a hand up. Yeah, if most of us are honest, we excel at one of those commands more than the other.
But Jesus made it very clear, multiple times that these commands go hand in hand. He even summed up his answer in Matthew 22:36-40 (above) by saying, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” In other words, everything you know to be true about God and what He asks of us hinges on “these two commandments” – both of them…together.
God doesn’t call some of us to love Him well and others to love our neighbors. In fact, I think Jesus illustrated in the story of the good Samaritan that you can’t really do one without the other. If you say you love God, but neglect to help out your neighbors, you’re really just a self-absorbed hypocrite. Ouch. Guilty…
(Just to be clear, you can err on the side of loving your neighbors without truly loving God, too. And that is no better. The goal is to be a woman who truly loves her God so much that she is then filled with love and compassion for the people He also loves.)
How to Be a Good Neighbor
Speaking of the parable of the good Samaritan, in that story Jesus told us all how to be a good neighbor.
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”~ Luke 10:36-37
To show mercy means to give compassion and kindness and help and relief…even when it has not been earned. Let’s look at a few of the ways this good Samaritan helped the man in distress and how his example could spur us on to “do likewise.”
- He noticed. (v. 33) Let’s ask God to give us eyes to see beyond our own busy lives and our own hurts and struggles. Let’s look out for other people and notice what they are enduring. And let’s slow down a little so that we can really see and hear other people.
- He was moved with compassion. (v. 33) Let’s ask God to give us a tender heart toward those who are hurting or in need. Let’s ask Him to remove the callouses from our heart that make us feel indignant or aloof or uncaring. And let’s allow our hearts to be moved by the plight of other people, even those we don’t know well. Let’s learn to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
- He went to him. (v. 34) We may not be able to physically go to the aid of other people right now. But we can still move into their lives. We can call. We can write. We can text. We can drop off.
- He used what he had and met his immediate needs. (v. 34) Let’s allow the generosity of others to inspire us, but not to stifle us. Sometimes we think we don’t have enough or even anything to give. But we need only to give what we do have. We can give time, money, service, prayers, words of encouragement, food from our pantry, blood or effort.
- He went the extra mile. The good Samaritan didn’t stop after he’d met the hurt man’s initial needs. Instead, he provided enough to help him get on his own two feet eventually. He didn’t just contribute; he stayed the course and made a real difference. Loving others is sometimes messy and requires more time than we want to give. Let’s ask God to help us be women who persevere in compassion.
Let’s wind up today by giving examples of how we’ve seen others go the extra mile and serve their neighbors recently. Or if you yourself have been a good neighbor in some small or big way, I’d love to hear about it. Honestly, I’m not asking you to toot your own horn, but I am asking you to share how God led you to serve and how you went about creatively meeting needs in this unique time. Your act of kindness and compassion could spark something in someone else here. So we’d really love to know.
How have you shown compassion and kindness during this COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe you’ve given money to a particular charity, donated blood, delivered groceries, mowed a neighbor’s yard, run errands for someone who is homebound, sent an encouraging card. We’d really love to know.
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.