Tag Archives: brotherly love

Neighbors

neighborsGen. 33:18 “Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city.”
The tents were raised, and the herdsmen settled into the countryside, and the sounds and smells of building camp reverberated.
But soon there would be trouble with the neighbors.
Gen. 34:30a “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites;’”
God spoke to Jacob and told him to move and to live in a different place.
How did things go wrong?
In this case one poor decision led to another and, as is common, sin ran rampant, ending tragically with murder, grief, and lifelong consequences. Jacob never forgot this moment in time and how his sons had tricked an entire town and then excused their behavior in the cloak of revenge.
How we treat those around us makes a difference.
Are we thoughtful of our neighbors?
Do we speak with understanding to the harried teller at the checkout or bank window?
Are there missed opportunities to show gentleness and kindness to others?
It is easy to say, “Love your neighbor” but can often cost us more than we are willing to give.
Recently I was standing with my three youngest children in a line.
A LONG line, at the airport, waiting to be scanned yet again (I had lost track at this point how many times we had already been scanned).
The kids were very tired and hungry and the last thing they wanted to do was wait.
I smiled at each of them as often as I could with words of encouragement that we were having a wonderful opportunity to learn patience and that those who can learn at an early age to wait gracefully would truly be ahead–for life is full of waiting.
As we continued to weave around and around the serpentine two grown men began to complain behind me.
They seemed to grow louder and more abusive with their berating of the airline, the laws, the people who were taking so long, the airport staff…
I tried to maneuver our kids away from such talk as they were already struggling with their attitudes.
I explained again to each of them that the reason for all the lines and scans and questions was the air port personnel were trying to make sure we were safe. That each of these things was put in place to guard us from danger.
They kids nodded and trudged on.
When finally we were free of that line I pulled the kids aside and apologized for the things the men were saying. Thankfully none of them had paid any attention and therefore didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.
I smiled.
We soon found ourselves in a new line.
A man traveling alone was behind us and at one turn in the line our son tripped and banged into the roller suitcase the man had in front of him.
I quickly apologized and took Jason’s hand to help him walk in front of me.
The man simply laughed.
“Well, I was not paying attention a little while ago and actually ran my bag into him first, so I guess it is pay back!”
I laughed in return and then tried to hush our boy as he looked at the man and stated, “Yah, don’t do that again.”
The man simply laughed more.
That was the end of any conversation but the rest of the line was much more pleasant. I knew that there was a good neighbor behind us.
What a difference a little grace can make!
That must be what Jesus meant when he told the story of the Good Samaritan. He wanted us to live for those around us as He lives for us.

Friends

friendsThere are all kinds of friends

These two dogs are friends, both to each other and to our family.

There are the friends in school and the ones from living on the same street, and those that you make from doing the same activities (music,fishing, baseball, art class).

Going through life will quickly teach one that a friend does not always stay friendly, there are times when you realize a person was not truly a friend at all but other friendships last a lifetime.
How are we to know when we have a good friend?
Of course there’s the old adage: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
But how often is what we think we want from another not healthy for us?
How often do we first look for one kind of a friend and when we find it we realize that was not what we wanted after all?
That’s when the perspective needs a flip.
Instead of looking at friendships as what can we receive we should be looking at it as what can we give.
How can we best encourage those we call friends?
It may not look like what you think.
Do you pray for your friends?
Asking God to give you insight into what would bless and encourage them even if it is not something you would look for a friend to do.
Are you honest with your needs and emotions in such a way that is not burdening but truthful.
What do I mean?
Does your friend only hear from you when something is wrong?
Do you stop and ask your friend, “What can I pray for you?” or “How is your Mom I know you said last week she was in to see the doctor”?
Do you allow your friends to bless you in return in the ways that God has gifted them?
Are you willing to have someone over for tea even if your house is not spotless?
Are you open enough to ask for their expertise in an area you know they love or have gifting in?
Don’t feel that this is a finger pointed into your chest saying that you need to straighten up.
In fact it is what I have been hearing and asking myself.
Why?
Because God has been blessing me with people in my life who have poured out their time, energy, and love upon me and my family and I frankly don’t deserve a single bit of it.
I have weaknesses and I struggle with being open enough to ask for help.
I have a busy schedule and I struggle with putting things aside to make time for a chat over coffee.
I have pride and struggle with looking someone in the eye and saying, “I’m hurting I need prayer.”
I have selfishness and struggle with putting off something I enjoy doing when I need to be connecting with others.
Praise the Lord for He is patient and so are my friends!
“A friend loves at all times,” Proverbs 17:17a