Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It is a sin to despise one's neighbor...

How about a little bit of honesty, hmm?

Do you have anything about yourself that you really don't like? Something that you know you need to change? Well, i do, and i am going to share it. You will see a not-so-pretty side of me.

Growing up, I was very compassionate. Tenderhearted. I cried when my sister hit an armadillo, for crying out loud. And once, when we were driving to school, a bird flew into our windshield & died. I cried the rest of the way to school. My heart broke for that silly bird. A lot of other things broke my heart, too. More serious things. I "felt sorry" for a lot of people & their situations. I remained this way, even as a teenager.

In my twenties, however, i began to get a little more cynical. A little less tenderhearted. A little less compassionate. I began to be too sarcastic. Not all the time, don't get me wrong. I love people. I love noticing the differences. I like this crazy melting pot we are - the various skin colors, face shapes, smiles, eye colors, personalities, character, religion, etc. I love that. And when people judge others, it makes me angry.

But. I have noticed over the last few years that i myself have judged others. I have pretended that i know where people are coming from. I have been rude to them. I have been blunt with them. I have not been kind or compassionate. Yes, as i have gotten older, i have become a little less tenderhearted & a little more cynical. I have noticed this just over the last couple of years. And it bothers me.

You may say this is normal. And i agree, it probably is to a certain point. I mean, when you are a child, you see the world differently. I certainly didn't have it easy in my teen years, but i kept a pure heart. But i guess in your twenties, you see things that make you angry.  Things happen that you don't understand. You realize that not everyone has the same value system as you do. And it kind of gets on your nerves. You can't go into a Subway restaurant without someone asking for some cash. Cash that you worked hard for. And so, instead of being kind to them, well...i have kind of ...i wouldn't say i am HORRIBLE to them, but i might be slightly rude. Or blunt. Or sometimes i just ignore them (pretending to be on my cell phone!). But i know my heart. And it's not right. It's not good. There are worse things being said to those people in my heart.

I wrote about Panhandlers here. You can go back & read that. Maybe that situation made me even LESS kind. The thing is, this post is not about giving anyone money, or even specifically about those who ask for it. A man in Walmart asked me for 87 cents the other day, because he was trying to refill a prescription and was short. Well, i gave it to him. 87 cents isn't going to break me. I knew he wasn't lying & i didn't really think twice about it. And i was kind to him.

But there are other times, i'm not so much. I have mentioned before that i hate how people in my city walk the streets at night. We live off of one of these streets & you cannot see the people until you are right up on them. I cannot understand why in the world these people do not just GO HOME! They bug me. They make me want to move. I think that it is ridiculous that they are just roaming the streets after dark. And this morning, this guy was a few cars ahead of me in the next lane. We were at a red light & he turned his head COMPLETELY AROUND (can we say whiplash) to stare at me. He wouldn't stop. I looked back at him twice, still staring! I finally bugged my eyes out & stared back like he was some kind of idiot. And maybe he was, because, really, who does that?! LOL. But why didn't i just ignore him? Why didn't i just smile cheerfully & wave?! Why did i stoop to his level & act like a 13 year old?! 

I know that is a silly example, but since it happened this morning, it was fresh in my mind. There are countless other examples...either where someone is walking the streets, or asking me for money, or yelling at me at work. Yes, i deal with these sorts of people at work too. And sometimes i can get ugly. Sometimes i get a giant ATTITUDE with them. And i don't want to be like that. Even if they do deserve it! Trust me, i am not saying these people are without fault! I am just looking at ME. How should I respond to them? Am i doing it right, as a christian? I don't think so.

I am supposed to be a light in darkness.  I am supposed to show God's love with everyone. I am not talking about giving someone money, please understand that. I am just talking about my attitude, God's love, being a Christian, and my heart.  

All of this to sayyyyy (i do a lot of prefacing, i know!)...

I have been reading the Bible in a year. Everyday in 2011, i will read the Word. I am right on schedule with this & am so thankful, as i haven't done much Bible reading over the past few years, until last fall. The other day i was in Proverbs & this verse caught my attention -

"It is a sin to despise one's neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy." -Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)

Thank you, God, for this verse. I think this is what i needed. A verse to tell me straight up that this is a sin. My attitude towards certain people is sin. And i am done with it! I repent of it & i am changing it. I actually wrote it on a post-it note & it stays at my desk at work. So when i am tempted to be rude to a client, i will remember that i am to be kind. Maybe they aren't financially needy, but i don't know that this is what the verse is speaking of. It could mean emotionally or spiritually or physically needy, too. Right? All of my clients are at least physically needy. And they are financially needy as well, or they wouldn't even qualify for our program. I can be kind to these people. I can show them God's love.

So that is it. Starting fresh. I am not wanting to become a big crybaby (which i am already over certain things!), but i do want to treat others with respect. I have always hated it when people are condescending towards me. I have even felt this from friends of mine at times, friends who are smarter than i am or friends who have more money. I never, ever want to treat others like they are less than me. Ever. Jesus loves them every bit as much as He loves me. Ya know?

And, by the way...just in case you aren't sure who exactly your neighbor is, remember the parable of the good samaritan. Luke 10:25-37. :)

3 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say other than I think aside from the cynicalness of adulthood (Is cynicalness a word?) one thing that happens is sometimes we cross the line a little and we get away with it, so we test it again...and get away with it. Before long was are acting in a way we never expected. I suppose it's sort of an adult tantrum. You know how you have to keep kids in line and remind them of the nice rules. Once you are an adult no one is there to remind you and goodness knows half the adults you run into our there don't know the rules at all...so it's easier to step over that line.

    Okay, I KNOW what I meant but I am not sure it translated well into the comment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. What's with everyone writing deep posts today?

    Good stuff Mel. And definitely something to think about and work on. Thanks for sharing what you are learning.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I struggle with this sometimes too. I work in a church and we often get homeless people come in asking for things. Sometimes it's fine, but other times you just feel like they're only out for what they can take and that they're never going to change.

    A missionary friend in Africa I know when questioned about how she knew who to help and who not to said: "I'd rather be in trouble in heaven for being naive than for being too mean with my time and resources". I thought that was very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are my favorite.