When Cain had just killed his brother and God asked him about Abel, do you remember what he said? He said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I’m sure there’s been a time in your life where you’ve felt like this. You’ve had an argument with a friend and your mom asks you how she is…. “I don’t know.” “Who cares?” These might have been your reply. We’re all guilty, none of us are perfect. Hopefully, this sentiment is just momentary and passes quickly for you. Deep down, when we feel this way I think we’re just being defensive, prideful, or insecure.
What is your first reaction in situations like this? To blow up, get angry, get upset, or turn away from the relationship. Or is it to pray? I’ll be the first to admit 8/10 times my first reaction is not to pray. Unfortunately… That’s usually my 30 second to a minute later response to my reaction. You know what I mean?
But that question… “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What if God’s answer to us is, “Yes?” Jesus said the two greatest commands are to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. The question then comes, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10) Why do we humans always want to know what the bare minimum requirement is? Is it laziness? Selfishness? Fear? My friends, to overcome these excuses, we must fully trust God. We must trust if He tells us to do something kind for someone else, then not only is it best for us, but it will bless us as well. If we trust Him, we’ll get off our lazy bums and do it. We must trust that if God asks us to do something kind for someone else, then it will be better than what we have in mind for ourselves. We think being the boss of us is great, but I can’t help but wonder how much blessing and goodness we miss out on trying to be the boss. Our creator and maker sees everything. He knows all sides of past events, whereas we might remember just sketchy details of one side of past events. He also knows all sides of all future events. Whereas we think we know what will happen and make assumptions about what others will do. God knows. We must trust that God will keep us safe and provide for us. We think, “What if I give to this person in need, but then something breaks?” “What if I give this man some money and he uses it to buy alcohol or drugs?” “What if I roll down my window to talk to this homeless person and I get robbed?” If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do something, God knows. He will protect you. He will provide for you. Do it. Be obedient and receive the blessing He has for your obedience.
I used some examples above of encountering strangers. But let’s take this closer to home. Our “neighbor” is not just strangers we see on the side of the road needing help, not just our family, not just our best friend. It’s every single person God has placed in our lives. It ebbs and flows. People come in our lives for a season, and sometimes they stay a while, sometimes only for a short time. Ironically before I finished typing this article, our pastor did a sermon on “Loving God and Loving Others” stemming from Luke 10: 25-37. You can listen here. He said “love” is a verb, a doing word. Love is lived out in service. Love was shown in that parable by the guy who did something. Not the guy with good intentions. Not the guy who was most religious. And definitely not the guy who wore the badge of “busy.” How many times do we neglect those around us in the name of “busy”? How many times do we get caught up in our own little worlds and don’t even notice the hurting faces around us?
I want to challenge you this week to just be aware. Pay attention to those around you. Be present. Smile at others. Be your brother’s keeper. Do you check in with people you know on a regular basis? Just calling to say hey? Or ask them about something they’ve done recently? I’ll admit I struggle with this. People sometimes think being a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom I have all the free time in the world which is far from the truth. And I am guilty, guilty, guilty of being “busy.” Let’s keep an eye out for “the least of these” in our lives. And take time for them. We never know what is going on inside people’s hearts and minds. But we do know that every person needs smiles from friends, a cheerful greeting, an encouraging word, laughter, and hugs. Every person wants to feel accepted and special. Every person wants to feel they matter. We can be the giver of these gifts to those around us.
Do to others what you would have them do to you. ~Luke 6:31
Tell me, what’s one thing you plan to do this week to intentionally love your neighbor?