22 But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
(Galatians 5:22-23, The New International Version, emphasis mine)
Here’s an example of love:
Okay but really, that’s a great movie. That may not be your traditional view, but I think the concept holds its own – like vs. love.
Like? Love? Who/what is easy (or hard) to love?
I’ve been reading Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff and this concept really hit home for me. As I was reading the first chapter called Creepy People, I was drawn to the Fruits of the Spirit (quoted above) because of the first one listed – love.
There are lots of places in the Bible where the word “love” is mentioned. I’m absolutely not a Biblical scholar, but I do remember the concept of “agape” or unconditional love. This is the ride-or-die, “I don’t care what you’ve done” kind of love. The one that never fails and never gives up. The God kind of love.
We talk a lot about how much God loves us and how He died on the cross because of this love. Church preaches about how Jesus loved the “unlovable” (at least by the world’s standards) and how we’re called to do the same. We talk about loving who hate us and how much easier it is to love people who look and act like us.
But what about the people who we are mildly inconvenienced by? Or the people who cut us off in traffic? Or the guy who didn’t hold open the door for you that one time at that one store?
I find myself cursing the guy yesterday who didn’t stop at the crosswalk when I was carrying groceries in the rain, but feel so dulled to the horrors of this world. Maybe it’s the number of episodes of Criminal Minds I’ve watched, but I’ve realized that if the things aren’t happening to me I don’t feel them as deeply. This on the surface makes sense, but I hate that I’ve come to compare my “injustices” to those of others who see them so boldly.
I can so easily (in theory) forgive a criminal for a crime not committed against me but not something so easily forgotten? In a day or so the rain-soaked drama will be all but a memory but my instinct is anger, while I hear of heinous crimes and my first thought is “forgive.” Is my detachment a coping mechanism, to keep myself from feeling a pain I could never truly feel?
When you look at the verse above, and how Jesus boiled down the greatest commands, love starts it all. I can be patient because God loves me despite the times I am oh so difficult (which is often) and he has called me to do the same. We can find joy because God created all things for His glory. I can do all, face all, persevere through all because of where my strength comes from.
I don’t really know much of an answer to this question I’ve posed, other than I’d like to improve my experience and gut reaction to both.
Here are some tangible things I can think of for how we (I) can love my neighbor better:
- Make my instinct to smile at someone instead of looking away
- Get off my phone
- Be as patient as I can
- Treat them how I want to be treated
- Encourage others
Any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!
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