(J. R. Miller, “Loving Your Neighbor”)
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“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31
What is it to love our neighbor? It is the loving that is hard. We could do almost anything else, short of loving unpleasant neighbors. (including disagreeable relatives)
But love is the word–and no revised version changes it. No matter how disagreeable, unlovely, unworthy, our neighbors may be–still the commandment persistently and relentlessly says to us, “You shall love him!”
Our neighbors are around us all the time, needing our love. Indeed, they touch our lives so continually, that we must guard our every look, word, and act–lest we hurt some sensitive spirit.
Some people seem to forget that other people have feelings. They are constantly saying words and doing things which give pain. True love is thoughtful. We ought to train our hearts to the most delicate sense of kindness, that we may never, even jokingly, give pain to anyone.
Our neighbors have hearts, and we owe to every one of them–the beggar we meet on the street, the degraded wretch we find crawling in the mire of sin’s debasement, the enemy who flings his insults in our face–to every one, we owe the love that is thoughtful, gentle, and gives no hurt.
Our love ought also to be patient. Because our neighbor will have his faults. But we are taught to bear with one another’s infirmities.
If we knew the story of men’s lives, the hidden burdens they are often carrying, the unhealed wounds in their heart–we would have most gentle patience with them. Life is hard for most people, certainly hard enough without our adding to its burdens–by our criticisms, our jeering and contempt, and our lack of love.
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