Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Love Thy Neighbor

I think this is a pretty familiar commandment, Love Thy Neighbor.  I hear about it all the time about being nice to others and helping others out, we are suppose to love thy neighbor.  God has been teaching me more and more about this.  It is more than just being nice to them, it is more than just extending a helpful hand to them.  You are suppose to love them.

Love is not a feeling but a choice that we make.  I have to go out of my way to choose to love my neighbor.  And what if it is a neighbor that I don't like?  What if it is someone who has done something to me?  I am suppose to love them anyways.  The Bible says we are suppose to keep our enemies closer.  This does not fit with the way of the world.  This is opposite thinking of what the world says.  It is backwards thinking even to what I think I should do.

I have been learning a lot about this commandment lately.  I have struggled with what our tenant is doing to us.  We have opened our hearts to her, we have helped her out, we have bent over backwards for her.  For what?  To just get used and abused?  She has not paid rent in several months and now will not get out of the apartment.  She keeps telling us that we have to have a judge ordered motion to get her out (we are in the process of doing this).  But in the meantime you are living in someone else's place, not paying, and you are OK with it?

I guess I don't understand because I could never think of doing something like that.  I am pretty much law abiding and get nervous about even the small things I do that I believe that I can get away with.  I don't understand how someone can use someone and continue to do it.  I don't understand how you can lay your head down at night and be OK with that decision.

SIN.  That is why.  We are not good people, we are full of sin.  The good things you see, that is God.  It is not because I am good.  I will be really honest, I am not.  The thoughts that have filled my head lately are totally sinful and dishonest.  The things that I would love to say or do to our tenant are not what God wants me to do, in any way shape or form.  God wants me to love her and forgive her.

I am struggling with that.  I have had Eric deal with most everything because I am so angered by the things that she has done.  She has done more to me than just not pay, she has taken things away from my children because she is selfish and dishonest, she has stole from my family, and she has "checked up" on my personal things, using those things for her benefit.  Shame on her.  That is so low and dishonest.  I want to scream and shout and just be inappropriate.

Instead, God is trying to quiet my tongue and is teaching me.  What she is doing is no different than my sin.  I need to learn the repercussions of my sin, not just on my life but on others.  I need to learn how to openly forgive and to give my love away as God has given His away.  It is so hard.  We open ourselves up to give and to show love only to get hurt.  But we must not let our emotions get in the way, we must continue on. 

My heart will be guarded for the next tenant and there were lots of lessons to be learned, things that we will do differently.  However, I must find it in my hear to forgive and move on.  I have been able to pray for her.  I have been able to start to ask for forgiveness.  We may never see another dime from her, even if we take her to court.  We will try to exhaust our resources that we have available to hold her accountable for her actions.  However, I must forgive her, I must continue to love her.  I am failing at that.

I thought I was doing good, until she e-mailed me again this morning.  She just does not care.  It does not concern her that she is stealing from my family.  It does not matter to her that she is illegally living in someone else's house.  It does not matter that she has not paid.  She is only looking out for herself and her benefit.  She is tied only to her.  Her actions hurt others, her actions are unkind.  That is sin.  I must forgive it because Jesus paid the price for me so I could.  He suffered so I could forgive and spread His love and Word.  I need to be obedient to Him.

I have to say that it is difficult too because it is money.  Money really is the root of all evil.  She is digging into something that I probably pride more than I should.  While money is tight, God has always provided for us.  Our bills have always been paid and we have been able to honor our word in saying we would pay this money back.  I have to not concentrate on the money, what we would have had, or what we are losing, but on all of my other blessings.  God is so good.  Our family is healthy, we have all 5 of us together, God has allowed us to be at home for the Holidays, when so many people are sick with the flu and respiratory infections, He has guarded our home for the time being and allowed us to be healthy.  He has provided my husband a good job, health insurance, I am able to stay at home with my children.  Ellen goes to a great school as does Allison.  We have some of the most amazing support people we could ever think of.  Our church family is supportive and encouraging and Ellen's school family is prayerful and helpful as well. 

After looking at that list, I am more rich than anyone in the world.  I have it all.  God has provided.  He is faithful in His promises and I need not worry.  I need to allow Him to continue to teach me and trust Him that everything will work out for His glory and for my good.  It will be His idea of my good and not mine.  I need to put my selfishness aside and understand my sin and how it affects others as well.  I need to focus on the blessings that He has provided and be content in where He has me today.

Please pray for me as I continue to forgive our tenant and continue to show her God's love.  I pray that she may find Him on her path somewhere.  I know these are valuable lessons.  I am sure somewhere in this journey there will be others that will say something or do something, and I will have to forgive, to love, and to show them grace because God has called me to do that.  Even as hard as it may be, that is still what I am suppose to do.

I know this is my learning moment, but it is really hard to do.  I never saw this commandment in this way before.  Yes, I have always tried to extend a hand to others, I have always tried to love, and show compassion.  However, to love someone through a tough time when it is them who has done you wrong, is really hard.  I am sure I will grow greatly in my faith and who I am when I can work through this.

My prayer for you as we enter 2013 is not to reflect and see the negatives, but to look on the past and see how you have grown, to see those blessings in disguise, to be thankful for every experience God has blessed you with.  It is much easier to look back and say 2012 has been so horrible, I hope 2013 will be much kinder.  However, if we never learn from our mistakes how can we expect to grow forward?  Nothing is as horrible as it seems.  With God's love, promises, grace, and forgiveness, we are able to get through anything.  And He will be there with us.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  What comfort we can find in that.  Look beyond your circumstances, turn your head up and you will be blessed.

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