When Loving Others is Hard

Love one another with brotherly affection. Romans 12:10

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Love. Defined as admiration, desire, or attraction. Most of us think of this definition when we think of the meaning of the word. No matter our walks in life, most of us, probably all of us, have experienced admiration, desire, or attraction.

Love. Also defined as unselfish and loyal concern for the good of another, or brotherly concern for others. This definition is what Christ-like love can be defined as, and I’ll be completely honest-at times in my daily interactions, circumstances, marriage, and as a parent, I don’t show “brotherly concern.”

Take this morning for instance. Our family has been subjected to ridiculing letters, phone calls, and environmental control visits courtesy of our neighbors. This morning was no exception. One of our “anonymous” neighbors showed concern for the state of our beloved dog, not by paying us a visit…but by calling animal control. A dog, I will add, that is 15 years old. A dog that is on her last leg (literally, she can’t walk on one of her legs), and a dog that is dying. At Christmas. Frankly. we don’t have it in our hearts to make the tough decision we know we need to at this time (Did I mention it’s Christmas time?). Frankly, we want her to enjoy one last Christmas, one last stocking. Frankly, I did not feel an ounce of “brotherly concern” for my “anonymous” neighbor!

So, after I called my husband, let off some steam, as I am sure it was coming out of my ears. After I plotted posting signs in our backyard, and thought about calling to price 12 foot privacy fencing, I took out my Bible and opened it up to what is often referred to as the Love Chapter-1 Corinthians 13. The first 13 verses of this passage are frequently read at weddings around the globe. It was read at mine almost 8 years ago.

But, do I live out its words each day of my life? Do I practice love with each encounter I have day in and day out? Do I truly show love to my husband, my children, my friends, my neighbors, or even strangers?

Am I an example to others of the true definition of love?

Love is patient, love is kind (v. 4). Am I truly patient? No, I have patience issues on the road, and I often fail to show patience with my children. I also hate to wait, for anything, period!

It is not irritable…(v. 5). Um, well….this morning’s rant about my neighbor was definitely not full of happy thoughts, or words for that matter. I was definitely irritable. Downright angry! And, ask the husband who has lived with me for 8 years, and I am sure he can attest to my frequent displays of irritability. I am sure “love” has not been displayed to a shopper blocking the aisle with their cart, or to my children who have spent hours fighting and screaming at each other.

It keeps no record of wrongs (v. 5). Well, I know I keep a record. I’m surprised I have not framed some of our mailbox letters. My ability to list everything my husband has done in the last day, week, month, year to irritate me during an argument is pretty solid proof that I keep a running tally of wrongs.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (v. 7).

This means….

The friend who is so different than you-show love.

The neighbor who has persecuted you, blown leave in your yard, or just irritates you-show love.

The co-worker, acquaintance, or family member who has a different set of beliefs than you-show love.

Your children, husband, mother, sibling, or anyone who wears your patience thin-show love.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40) does not mean we only love those who live in our homes, or those who live next door. It means everyone with whom we come into contact. It is displayed to those in the community, in the grocery store, at work. It means loving those you happen to like, and those you don’t like so much.

Never ceasing. Never failing. In every situation.

Show unselfish and loyal devotion. Show brotherly affection. Show love.

Three things will last forever-faith, hope, love-and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

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