When Loving Your Neighbor Is Hard, Remember This & Pray

Community is at the heart of what we do here at Love in Faith. Everything we do is rooted in the idea that we're better together. We, as believers, are all part of the collective body of Christ. Think back to Romans 12:5, "So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Living life alongside other believers is part of God's vision for human flourishing.

While this is a beautiful thing, it can also be hard at times. We indeed get so much life and happiness from those in our lives, but when conflict arises, it can create divisions and anxiety. It's easy enough to get along with those who are similar to us, but how do we move forward when our neighbor isn't easy to love? That's the question we asked ourselves as we began to dig into Scripture. 

Today, we're looking at our most inspiring passages of Scripture on loving your neighbor well—as Jesus would. 

1. The Call to Be Unified: Where it Comes From

"I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." ~ 1 Corinthians 1:10

There are many passages of Scripture that call on believers to come together. Think of all the times Paul addresses this in his various Epistles. We're dialing in on this 1 Corinthians passage because it pretty much sums up how we're called to live in Christ. To be a Christian is to not live life alone. Yes, all you need to do to be saved is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and invite Him into your heart, but there's quite a bit more when it comes to Godly living. It can be argued that a main pillar of Christian living is loving others, too. 

Consider the greatest commandment Jesus gives us in Mark 12:31, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these."

When we look at the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—we're reminded of the power of fellowship. Each member of the Trinity holds equal power, and yet they each have different roles. When we look at the church, we see how we are all unified under one belief, and yet we all look different, act different, speak differently, and the list goes on. As we love one another, we reflect the image of God Himself. 

2. Consider Other's Wellbeing Ahead of Your Own

This one's easy to say, hard to exercise. Since we're following Jesus' lead and letting our life reflect His, we're forced to see His sacrifice on the cross and relate this to our own lives. Jesus was the most selfless being to walk the earth. He took up all the sins of the world, carried them on His shoulders, and died, that we may live and have access to God. He even loved those who persecuted Him. He did this because yes, that is His character, but also, He was obeying the Father's will. 

If we call ourselves Christians, then we too are called to put others' needs ahead of our own, no matter the cost or consequence. When we think of all the difficult people in our lives, we cringe. How could we love them when they're so hard to be around? This is when a brief journey to the New Testament is needed to see the ultimate display of human sacrifice—Jesus on the cross.

Of course, we should specify what loving your neighbor really looks like, beyond putting their needs ahead of yours.

3. Loving Others: What It Means & What It Doesn't

It would be so nice if we could have Jesus' audible voice in our ear throughout our day-to-day life, right? Imagine encountering a difficult co-worker with Jesus right there to navigate the conversation with you. Jesus is accessible to us, but we have to reach out to Him and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us in our ways. What do we do when we're not sure how to proceed? When Jesus in all His wisdom seems so far away? How then are we supposed to love someone who is mean, hurtful, or just plain difficult? 

It can be argued that the examples in the Bible are seen as extreme. While there may not be enemies pursuing our lives, as was the case with Jesus, we still have those who create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety in our lives. So what does loving our enemy really look like for someone who's considered "toxic" in our lives? Besides wishing well for them? 

Treating others with love and kindness is always a good rule of thumb, but when it comes to those who are not healthy to be around, suggest setting up good boundaries. It's okay to seek out positive people in your life, while maintaining healthy boundaries with those who are not. Continue to pray for those who are difficult to be around, but you don't have to be best friends with them, especially if they create anxiety. Be sure to ask for God's guidance in every relationship! He will know the best way to proceed. 

Look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. We see a complete stranger stopping to care for a Jewish man who was brutally beaten and robbed. Not only was he a stranger, but a Samaritan at that—someone considered to be an enemy by the Jews. He was the only one to pass and care for the man, and in this way he truly exemplified the love of Christ. How many people in our daily lives do we walk by who really could use some help? How can we be a better neighbor, like the Samaritan?

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – John 13:14

Lastly, we can't help but look to Jesus' example of humility and compassion in John 13:14. We see Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. This simple act is such a stunning display of love. Think of how intimate it is to wash someone's feet. It's very up close and personal. Here Jesus is showing us what true neighborly love is—raw, real, small acts of everyday service.   

4. Above All, Always Seek the Father's Will 

This one is the most important point to remember! Even while Jesus was en route to being crucified, He stopped to pray to the Father and seek His will in the Garden of Gethsemane. The same should be true to us whenever we encounter someone who's difficult to love in our community. Silence the often bitter commentary running about in our mind, and instead tune in to what the Father wants from us in this very moment. Who knows, He may use you to do something magnificent in the other's life. There is a reason this person is in your life—don't forget that.

So keep seeking out God's will, keep returning to Scripture to learn more and more about the man who loved perfectly. While we may never reach Jesus-status when it comes to human kindness, we can certainly seek out His help in trying! Don't forget the power of abiding in Jesus. Consider John 15:

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

Stay close to Him, and you will grow in love and kindness toward others.

The Best Reminder

Looking for a shirt that says it all? This one pretty much sums it up! Here at Love in Faith, all of our apparel and accessories are crafted with a purpose—to encourage you and remind you of Jesus. Sometimes, we can use that extra little bit of courage to get us through that hectic workday or meeting, so why not wear a tee with your favorite Bible verse or phrase on it? Shop our selection of our Christian apparel, with collections featuring some of your favorite verses and imagery as a reminder to be bold! 

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