Everyone has that one neighbor. Maybe in some cases you have more than just the one. But you know what I’m talking about…
The neighbor who is completely inconsiderate and rude, cares nothing about what others think and how they might be disturbing their neighbors around them, and when confronted looks at you like you’re the one who is being an inconvenience to them.
And if you’re like me, you feel like crap at the thought of calling the cops on your neighbor every time they do something that disturbs your peace, so you don’t ever do it.
I’ve lived in a couple different states, several different towns, and many different neighborhood setups since living on my own…and I can tell you, there’s always at least one. Even way out here in rural Cottageville, SC.
It’s difficult to love these people, isn’t it?
It’s difficult to love the unlovable.
It’s difficult to love the annoying, inconsiderate, rude, self-seeking, thorns in our side people.
It’s difficult to love people in general.
Jesus once talked about this, and he had some hard things to say about it:
Luke 6:32-36 NLT – “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
Ugh. Jesus, why do you have to say things like that?
Why can’t I just love the people who love me back? It would be SO much easier!
Why do we have to complicate things by trying to love people who are absolutely awful to be around?
I’ll tell you why. Well…actually, Jesus told us why in the last part of those verses I just read. He said we do this because then we will “truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked”. He goes on to say that we MUST be compassionate (not a recommendation here, but a command) just as God the Father is compassionate.
Basically, we love the unlovable, because God the Father loved us when we were and when we are unlovable.
It’s true though. We all were unlovable and wicked and unthankful before we met Jesus. And even after having met Jesus and started a relationship with Him, and have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we still find ourselves saying and doing unlovable things and being unthankful at times. And through all of that, and in spite of that, he loved us and continues to love us.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
God didn’t wait to love us when we finally decided to love Him back. No, He loved us even while we were still sinners, even while we were still wicked, unthankful, and unloving toward Him.
I’m preaching these words as much to myself as I am to anyone else.
You see, I have that neighbor (well a couple) who are absolute thorns in my side.
I have people who seem to make it their daily and weekly mission to be a thorn in my side.
I am constantly having to remind myself to love them because I’m constantly failing at doing it. Or, I’m on the verge of turning into a wrecking ball and flipping their world upside down because they’ve put me on the edge of insanity.
But I have to do this.
WE have to do this.
Not because these people deserve it. But because through our acts of love despite their behavior, God may be glorified, and these individuals may come to know Jesus and experience His love as well, which is far grater, far deeper, far wider, and far higher than our love could ever hope to be.