Love Thy Neighbor

“Love your neighbor as yourself, there is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

Carla Lawrence Photography

Carla Lawrence Photography

I’m certain that when it comes to loving those who are different from us, oppose us or despise us that it boils down to one key word.

Pride.

C.S. Lewis says this about pride:

“There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.”

This past Wednesday night we had a new face at our church dinner. He was definitely different from the rest of the diners gathered around the tables. You could tell he was in need.

He hung around the church while everyone packed up and went home, many speaking to him and wishing him a good night as they left. Naturally, my family was the last to finish dinner and clean up our area. As we were leaving, my husband started up a conversation with the man named Johnny and before I knew it, he had made plans to take Johnny to a hotel for the night.  

When Andy returned home from getting Johnny settled at the hotel, Andy kept questioning whether or not he had done a good thing.

The manager at the hotel claimed Johnny had stayed with them before and trashed the hotel room. At this point Andy just couldn’t leave the man stranded. He talked with the hotel manager until they agreed to let Johnny stay. We will never know if this claim was true or if the hotel just didn’t want to fool with someone off the street. Andy was fearful it was true and that he may have made the wrong decision by putting him up for the night.

After much discussion we came to the conclusion that all we can do is trust God and do what we feel he is leading us to. We cannot carry the worry of what the recipient does with our generosity. I battle these feelings each time I give and am reminded by mentors and friends that we can only hand it over to God.

Christ never commanded us to trust others, he commanded us to love others and trust Him.

Wanting to control what someone does with our good deeds is only our pride creeping in.

Why do I care if a man buys alcohol with the money I hand him on the street? Because pride wants to be sure that deed was truly a good one and not wasted. Love just wants the man to know someone is thinking of him and will spare a dollar for his needs.

Why do I care if someone appreciates the work we do on his home? Because pride wants to know someone is thankful for our hard work. Love is satisfied to know that someone’s home is just a bit more livable.

Pride wants to see the reward of your effort, the benefit of your generosity and the appreciation of your sacrifice.

But when you choose to love someone that you differ from, oppose or who despises you, there is often no reward, benefit or appreciation.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”  -Robert Louis Stevenson

Several years ago, I had some disagreements and issues with a fellow Christian. I was disappointed and hurt by their actions and my spiritual life suffered, consequently.

Since then we have taken different paths and I don’t have very much interaction with them, anymore. After a year or so removed, I was able to heal and actually learned so much from the situation. I could even claim that I have grown closer to Christ because of those trials within my Christian community.

After much prayer and deliberation I also realized that this person had hurt and pain in their life that was unresolved. That was the only reason I could fathom that they would feel the need to bring hurt, pain and fear upon others. So I wrote them a letter letting them know that no matter what had happened in the past, I was praying for their wellbeing and happiness and that I truly wished the best for them. And by this point, I truly did mean that.

I never received a response. My letter could be tucked away gently somewhere, saved as a kind gesture or it could have traveled through a paper shredder and now resting at the bottom of a landfill. For a while I battled inside whether or not it bothered me to get no response.

Then I finally realized: pride wanted the response, love needed no answer.

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”   Luke 6:35

This month’s tee will benefit the residents of Tent City in Huntsville, Alabama. To learn more about Tent City and the homeless community in that area, visit this website here. With the money raised through this effort, we plan to purchase essential supplies for those living in this community.

You may think you know the homeless community but I don’t think any of us can grasp the array of people who have found themselves in this situation; there are veterans, some disabled, those who are down on their luck, and the mentally ill. 

Often times we come to the conclusion that the homeless are just products of their poor decisions. Which could be true in some cases. We may never know if our tiny acts of service will help them out of their poverty stricken situation, but we can know that we loved another when given the opportunity.

No one deserves to be living a life on the streets, but what we all DO deserve is love.

BUY A SHIRT- love your neighbor by supporting this cause and helping us distribute necessities to those living without.

WEAR YOUR SHIRT- wear your shirt to remind yourself and others that love covers all and everyone deserves love.

WANT TO DO MORE? We are putting together a list of items that you can donate to add to what we raise through our tshirt efforts. Once we gather the list of items and drop off locations we’ll post it on social media.

Love and Blessings, 

Anna