40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 4
Reflections on Matthew 19 – 24
“[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” Matthew 22: 37 – 39
Love of God and love of neighbor are connected. I often forget that connection, especially if my neighbor’s dog barks at the moon all night long and then I must dodge the dog’s “land-mines” walking through my front yard to get the morning paper. There are no lovely feelings or happy thoughts about being neighborly.
Love of God and love of neighbor are connected when nothing but a wall of sheetrock and a thin layer of insulation separates you from the sounds of crying and screaming children over the beat of “thud-thud-thud…thud thud” from a subwoofer. I admit, I would deliberately avoid being neighborly towards them.
In both scenarios, my heart, soul and mind was bent, twisted and misaligned with anger and resentment towards my neighbors. I was also becoming a miserable neighbor for them to live next to. It continued to grow worse until my attitude began to change towards them.
My attitude began to change when I began to focus on God’s love for all of us. And I began to understand that in no way could I be neighborly without loving God first.
And when I gave God first place in my heart, soul and mind, his love enabled me to love my neighbor. Friendships developed and good things began to happen. I stopped to chat a few times every week with the lady who owned the dog and eventually I noticed my yard wasn’t a mine-field any more and the dog was brought inside at night. We became better friends, taking long walks together, with her dog on a leash…talking and doing life together.
We invited the family next door to come over for supper and to bring their kids too. We shared life with them to the point that we became best of friends. And I’m not sure what happened to that subwoofer because I never heard the thuds again. We had our first child while living next door to this family. I will never forget how they were the beautiful example of being neighborly to us.
To love your neighbor as yourself is a gift…this is the meaning of being neighborly.
I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent