Each month I write an article for a local magazine, Up In Cumming. As always, I like sharing the articles with you guys! Hope you enjoy!
As I thanked my friend for a lovely evening and prepared to leave her home, she encouraged me to drive slowly. Apparently someone was posting the license plates of potential subdivision speeders on the neighborhood Facebook page. I chuckled because this wasn’t the only neighborhood dealing with the exact same problem.
Theirs is not the only community experiencing a war of words on social media, either. One neighborhood Facebook page publicly names offenders and offenses of conflicts. Still another airs dirty laundry – as prayer requests, of course. My own neighborhood Facebook page has had its share of grievances and conflict, too. I am relatively sure every group Facebook page falls victim to occasional disagreements.
Do you know what each of the people who write online posts about these situations have in common? They are right. Speed limits should be obeyed. Conflicts should be addressed. Prayers should be offered. Did you know, however, that it’s possible to be right without being righteous? To be correct without being kind? Any time we wag a moral finger in piety or hate we are guilty of being right without being righteous.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, this month is all about love – kind sentiments and thoughtful gestures. Yet, love is truly more meaningful than a dozen roses and a box of candy. Love is seeking to understand before being understood. Being kind to people who don’t act or think the way we do is one of the most difficult things we will ever attempt, yet if we teach ourselves to think beyond our own desires and seek to understand another’s viewpoint, we just might reach common ground and peace.
For example, instead of complaining about the shenanigans of the neighbors, invite them to dinner. Get to know them. Then, love them.
I’m not suggesting we deliver roses and candy to our neighbors. I’m suggesting much more practical application, and the Bible is replete with ideas.
Motivate one another (Hebrews 10:24). Serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Humbly relate to each other (1 Peter 5:5). Be tender hearted toward one another (Ephesians 4:32). Don’t provoke each other (Galatians 5:26). Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13). Handle disagreements in private in order to protect one another’s dignity and reputation (Matthew 18:15).
If ideas for loving our neighbors are needed, God’s Word is a one-stop shop. But before we forward this page to that difficult person in our lives (there’s always one), let’s turn our wagging finger around and focus on ourselves. The bottom line is if each of us becomes a better lover of people, most of our conflicts would end more quickly and less painfully. Being right without being righteous will never win friends and influence people. It only serves to alienate.
Love, however, covers a multitude of sins. Ours and theirs. Whether we are the offender or the offended, let’s choose gentleness. Let’s choose respect. Let’s choose empathy. Let’s choose love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 “And do everything with love.”