Bible Verses about Loving Our Neighbors

  • Leviticus 19:18 CSB
     Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
  • Proverbs 3:28-29 CSB

    Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go away! Come back later.
    I’ll give it tomorrow”—when it is there with you.
    29 Don’t plan any harm against your neighbor,
    for he trusts you and lives near you.

  • Psalm 15:1-3 CSB

    Lord, who can dwell in your tent?
    Who can live on your holy mountain?

    The one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness,
    and acknowledges the truth in his heart—
    who does not slander with his tongue,
    who does not harm his friend
    or discredit his neighbor,

  • Matthew 22:37-40 CSB
    He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.38 This is the greatest and most important[b] command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
  • Luke 10:36-37 CSB
    “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
    37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.
    Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”
  • Romans 13:10 CSB
    Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Romans 15:2 CSB
    Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
  • Ephesians 4:25 CSB
    Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,[a] because we are members of one another.
  • Galatians 5:13-15 CSB
     For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
  • James 2:8 CSB
    Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.

Bible Verses on Loving Others

  • Matthew 5:43-44 NIV
     “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Mark 12:29-31 NLT
    Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
  • John 13:34 NIV
    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
  • John 15:12-13  NLT
    This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
  • Romans 13:8 NLT
    Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
  • Ephesians 4:2 NLT
    Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
  • Ephesians 4:31-32
    “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
  • 1 John 3:18
    Dear children, let us not love with words or speech b1john4ut with actions and in truth.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 NLT
     

     You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

  • 1 John 4:7-8 NIV
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • 1 John 4:11 NIV
    Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  • 1 John 4:19-21 NIV
     We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Storing Up Treasure that Lasts

My son lined up his pirate loot after spending time at “Pirates Day” down along the river’s beach.

It was a good haul: Seaglass, plastic gold coins, colorful rocks, and a black eyepatch with the skull and crossbones.  He surveyed it with a bit of pride and then tucked every treasure away in his tiny black bag of “jewels.”

We followed a treasure map in order to gather all these rewards, and it is impressive in its array, colorful and plentiful, just about filling his pirate treasure pouch, which makes him feel vastly wealthy.

We know, of course, that it’s pretend treasure. It’s temporary at best and plenty valuable enough to  a four-year-old, but not something you can plop down in exchange for  anything more long-term.

Still, he’s satisfied.

Am I satisfied?  And if I am, should I be?

Are there places where I’ve mis-placed value, missing out on what has eternal  significance because I’m caught up  in what is temporary and here-and-now just because it looks worth having?

Are there places where I’m letting myself fret and freak out because it just seems oh-so-important  to solve this crisis, when it’s really better to relax and let go and trust and be at peace?

I think we all have this longing for the eternal and that means in the moments when we find the joy, or the comfort, or the peace, we want to hang on tightly for dear life and not ever, ever let go.

And then life tumbles us and shifts and the ground feels terribly shaky all over again.

In our family devotions, we read these verses from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount:

“Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 CSB). 

My kids mostly get it.  They tell me that we shouldn’t love money or  be too greedy, and that’s the truth.

But what about these other treasures on the earth, not money perhaps, but still temporary jewels that might fill a pouch, but can’t be carried into heaven?  Like accolades from others.  The encouragement of a kind word.  Being noticed.  Measurable impact. Likes and followers.

Or what about report cards and test scores? Or titles and positions and power?  The house, the car, the clothes…Feeling comfortable.  Feeling safe.

These are good things that we can turn into “ultimate things,” which makes us miss out on eternal things.

Jesus said our heart is where our treasure is.  We know He wants our heart, so what should I be treasuring?

What lasts absolutely forever, not for just a day or a year or a season?

His Word ENDURES.

Peter wrote:

but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you (1 Peter 1:25 CSB).

The Word of the Lord lasts.  It endures.  Every single bit of time and effort we put into knowing His Word  makes a difference for eternity—and I don’t  mean head knowledge or doctrinal debates or memorizing facts and figures.  I mean the way His Word can till  the soil of our hearts, plant seeds,  and produce fruitfulness; the way His Word changes us.

It’s because the Bible is so much more than just words on the pages; it’s given to us by the Lord Himself and:

THE LORD REMAINS CONSTANT also.

That’s what it means when we’re told He never changes, He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  The Psalmist writes:

But you are the same,  and your years will never end.  Psalm 102:27 CSB

He is our treasure, our eternal reward of the highest value.

So, every single day, if I want to store up the treasure that will last, I seek His Word, I seek the Lord, and one more thing.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says:

 Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart (CSB).

PEOPLE LAST, TOO.

This is the treasure with eternal value:  Loving Jesus.  Loving His Word.  Loving others like Jesus does.

That sets life topsy-turvy sometimes, because sometimes busyness appears so valuable and can make us feel so  important, but what really has value and what endures might be:

family dinner
a milkshake and some conversation after a hard day at school
reading the Bible at night with your kids
rocking a baby at midnight because he can’t sleep
coffee with a friend
devotions on the backporch in the early morning hours
a walk with the Lord on a sunny spring day.

That’s the treasure that endures.

 

Seeing faith in action when you look in the kitchen

Funerals for dear friends who succumbed to cancer and funerals for young grandsons and sons , funerals after long-and-exhausting illnesses, funerals for unexpected death, and shocking funerals that remind a whole community of evil in the world– it feels like our church has had its share of sadness and hard losses in the last few years.

While we’re upstairs in the sanctuary, remembering loved ones, telling stories, singing hymns, and being reminded of eternal life in Jesus Christ, there’s this other truly beautiful thing happening downstairs.

The kitchen is abuzz.

Tables are set out and a team of people flit in and out of that kitchen carrying bowls and choosing the right serving spoons.  They cut up fruit and place sandwiches on trays.  They fill pitchers of water and tea and boil large pots of soup.

They are so faithful.  Funeral after funeral, they quietly set out the food and clean up the dishes. They work before most of us arrive and stay after most of us have left.

They do that kind of ministry that matters so much, that has so much impact, the kind that shows people God’s great love by meeting the most practical needs at the time they need it the most.  It’s not flashy or showy.  It’s “just” setting up tables.  It’s “just” setting out food.

But it’s also “just” loving others with self-sacrificing compassion.  These are humble acts, solely motivated by a desire to give.  No one is handing out trophies in the kitchen.

So, I marvel at these faithful few and I learn from them about what it means to live out my faith with obedience to Jesus.

Loving God well does not require degrees or ministry platforms.  It doesn’t require arenas or microphones.  It doesn’t even require being seen by most others around us.

When Jesus finished  rubbing off the grime on the disciples’ feet at their Passover  meal, He said:

If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14 NASB).

We Christians are supposed to be feet-washers.

Paul emphasized Christ’s example in this also:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servantand being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.(Philippians 2:5-8 NASB). 

It doesn’t mean, of course, that we all have to crowd into a kitchen and serve up meals to  mourners at funerals.  We couldn’t possibly.  I, for one, would probably make a terrible mess of it.

But I can serve.

My faith in Christ is best expressed in service, in kindness, in gentleness, in giving, in  humility, in compassion, in rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty.

In Acts 28, Paul lands on the isle of Malta.  He’d been a prisoner on a ship bound for Rome on treacherous seas.  The sailors fought the storms for more than two weeks, throwing their provisions overboard, leaving them hungry, exhausted, wet, and terrified.

But Paul assured them that God would keep them safe, and that’s exactly what God did.  He washed them up on the shore of this island, where the natives showed them “extraordinary kindness.”

Then, Scripture tells us:

But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand (Acts 28:3 NASB).

In his book The Practice of Godliness, Jerry Bridges says this:

 Under the adverse circumstances of shipwreck, why would Paul have gone about gathering fuel for a fire built and tended by someone else?  Why didn’t he just stand by the fire and warm himself?  He didn’t because it was his character to serve (see Acts 20:33-35; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9).

Paul was like everyone else: Lost and then saved, probably sopping wet, weary, and hungry.  Paul had every reason to  collapse near the fire and let others tend to his needs.

But instead, he gathered sticks and laid them on the fire.  He did the work.  He served.

Jerry Bridges suggests that “it was his character to serve.”

Paul’s spiritual gifts were probably evangelism and preaching/teaching, not so much compassion, giving, and service.  Yet, here Paul is tending a fire because we are all called to serve like Jesus, to be humble like Jesus, to love others like Jesus.  This is the way we live out radical faith in Him.

May these words be said of me and may they be said of any of us who want so much to be like Jesus: “It’s our character to serve. “

Holding onto hope in hopeless places

Our new house has stairs and that means I’ve been practicing a new and heretofore undeveloped skill—yelling up those stairs to my kids.

My voice lacks the resonant quality needed to get their attention most of the time.  After all, I’m competing with earbuds, closed doors, radios, their own conversations, iTunes, and the like.  So, they don’t always hear me.

There are other culprits also.  Like the distance from the front of the minivan to the back of the minivan and all the ambient noise in said minivan while I’m trying to talk.

Or there’s simply my son’s natural talkativeness.  He can’t hear me very well when he’s trying to tell me a story at the same time.

Whatever the culprit, I spend a lot of time as a mom just trying to be heard.

All of this has been nudging my heart a little with a question:  What gets in the way of me hearing God?

Busyness, distraction, noise, inattentiveness, me not taking time to listen—all of them are to blame at times.

But there’s something else, too.  Sometimes heavy-heartedness, sadness, and discouragement throw us into a pit of darkness, and it’s so hard to hear God’s voice in that place.

There are times God speaks hope to his people and  even though hope is truly what we need, we can miss His message.

This is where Israel was in the beginning of Exodus.  Slavery trampled on more than their physical freedom.  Over time, it had beaten them into hopelessness.

That’s when God sent Moses with these words:

I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel….
I have remembered my covenant….
I will bring you  out from under the burdens of the Egyptians….
I will  deliver you from slavery.
I will redeem you…
I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God…
I will bring you  into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Exodus 6:2-9).

The promises are stunning. The assurances are powerful.  These are the grandest, greatest, most extravagant declarations of God’s abiding love for His people and His determination to rescue them.

But they didn’t throw a block party when they heard Moses’s news, nor did they pack their bags and start planning for departure.

Instead, Exodus says:

“they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9 ESV).

They didn’t listen.

They didn’t listen because they couldn’t listen.  Their perspective had been damaged over time. God seemed distant and unreal, unhelpful and uncaring and words didn’t penetrate through  that wall of hurt and bitterness.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in places where hope is hard.

David had been there, too.  He wrote:

Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul (Psalm 142:4 NASB).

What he needed was to know that someone cared for his soul.

Just like Israel, David felt abandoned, alone, and hopeless with no chance of rescue.  But there in the middle of that place of pain, he recalled the promise and the truth:

The righteous will surround me,
    for you (God) will deal bountifully with me. (Psalm 142:7b NASB). 

God’s people would  be there for him and God would come through for him.  That’s what David knew.

That’s what we need to  know, too, when we feel forgotten or abandoned, alone, or without hope.

God’s people  are there for us.  God will come  through. 

But we’re not just receivers of that message;  we’re messengers of hope to others.

How can we share about God’s love and keep sharing? Remind others of God’s promises and keep reminding them?  Speak truth in love and keep on speaking  that truth even when we’re ready to give up?

Some of us right now are loving  someone who is traveling through hard spaces: the valley, the wilderness, the pit, and that’s a messy kind of ministry.

We can be poured out and depleted when caring for the hurting. It requires deep compassion, supernatural patience, and near-constant trips into God’s presence for  our own renewal and refreshing.  Otherwise, we’ll be crushed underneath someone else’s burden.

Only the Holy Spirit can do that deep healing work in any of us.  Only the Holy Spirit can open blinded eyes and deaf ears.

So the pressure is off of us to make others hear or understand or change their minds.

Here’s what we can do: We be present with them in the pain.  We stick with them in prayer.  We keep holding onto hope, and we trust God do the greater work that He alone can do.

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the night before Thanksgiving

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the day before Thanksgiving.

These are the moments before we’ve donned our favorite fall-colored outfits and before the table is set with best china and the house is sparkling.

On Thanksgiving-Eve, we dress in jeans and t-shirts that are bound to get messy because it is after all a messy day (especially if you cook like  I do with flour dusting the kitchen like a powdering of snow on the winter ground).

Surely messy bakers make the best cookies!

We  work hard, scrubbing and cleaning, but we also laugh hard  in the kitchen as we roll out the cookies and fill the pies.

There was the year we forgot to bake the pre-baked pie crust for our chocolate meringue pie and just put the filling right on in there.  Then, we scraped it all out, baked the pie crust like we were supposed to, and filled it back up again.

Then there’s the year we did the exact same thing all over again and laughed and laughed because did we learn anything at all the year before?   Not hardly.  We’re too busy baking and laughing to  pay attention to  small details like that.

And, inevitably we reach into the pantry for the next ingredient and find out we ran out a few weeks ago and didn’t know it,  so husbands make last-minute dashes to the Food Lion for us.

On the night before Thanksgiving, it’s all about the preparation and not the presentation.

We make mistakes and  we fix them.  The mishaps become  part of our Thanksgiving lore, just another funny story to add to years of stories.

We get covered in sugar and pie filling.  We experiment with a cookie icing, find we don’t like it,  and  then try something else.

We’re comfortable with the process, comfortable with the “real” and  comfortable with the learning.  We’re in this together as a team.

Now, I love the day of Thanksgiving also.  I’m all about the family gathering and  board games and story-swapping and family pictures and belly laughs and traditions.  I love the beauty of it, the table set, the colorful leaves,  the orange of the pumpkins.

I love the pausing and the giving thanks.

But I’ve been  thinking lately about how hard it is to love hard-to-love people.  I’ve been worn down by hurtfulness and pettiness in various places. It’s been the kind of soul-exhausting tension that makes me want to hibernate and hide away from all human contact for a few months.  I want to breathe a little easier before heading out into the big wide world of other people where I’m being too frequently trampled.

Maybe, though, maybe I need to remember that in life, we’re all on the “Eve” and not quite ready for “the day.”

Nobody is perfect yet and we’re all in this together.

This is what we have to  look forward to:

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is  (1 John 3:2 ESV).

In the meantime, though, before Jesus returns and we’re seeing Him face-to-face in heaven,  we’re making messes in the kitchen and making last-minute runs to the grocery store for the items we’ve forgotten.  It’s better to laugh at all this than despair over it.

We’re creating our own stories, our own testimonies of where we’ve come from and where God has brought us, and it’s messy, but it’s good.

Colossians 3:13 says,

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

We’re giving grace to others because  we’ve been lavishly, extravagantly forgiven and we’ve been loved by God even though we don’t merit that love and haven’t earned His affection.

Of course, we can still take a little time away to catch our breath when others hurt us.  We can set some healthy boundaries and speak some honest words in a loving way.

But we can also overlook some offenses and offer a little safe space where people don’t have to be perfect because we’re still in progress.  This is just us reminding ourselves that we’re not home yet, but we are  on our way.

 

 

Not a servant, but a friend

“I am not a servant.”

My youngest daughter says it first in a matter-of-fact tone.

I can’t hear the other side of the conversation so I don’t know what request prompted this response.

I do know she gets her answer from me.

I say it sometimes to my kids when they ask me to hop up from the dinner table (before I’ve even taken a bite of my own food) to get them something they could easily get themselves.

I say it when they call out “Mom!” while they are watching TV and ask me to stop working to get them a drink of water.

I say it to remind them that, while I love them and I love to do nice things for them, sometimes they treat me like unpaid kitchen help.

And that’s not right.

So I listen in as my daughter repeats her response broken-record-style.

“I am not a servant.”

“I am not a servant.”

Then she sings it in a high opera voice, “I am not a servant…..”

Finally after what seems like the twentieth repetition of this phrase, her older sister bends over and picks something up off the floor.

The little ones around here have grown wise to this new trend, how older sisters think because you’re smaller, you must perform all tasks menial and low-to-the-ground so they can continue with whatever far-more-important thing they’re doing.

My Catherine is standing up for herself.

After all, what she has always wanted, what she truly desires in her little sister heart-of-hearts, is for these bigger girls to play with her.

She doesn’t want to fetch dropped Legos off of the floor.

She doesn’t want to get them a paper towel or find them a sharpened pencil.

She wants to be friends with them.

Shortly before His death, Jesus said something profoundly moving to His disciples:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  (John 15:15 NIV).

Not servants, but friends.

He offered them so much more than the menial tasks of mindless obedience, the fetching and finding and picking up of hired help.

He called them friends.

For the disciples, friendship with Jesus didn’t change what they did.   Jesus loved by serving sacrificially and humbly, and He told them to do the same.

But He invited them into His heart and His plans.

OF COURSE, IT DOESN’T MEAN WE AREN’T SERVING GOD DAY IN AND DAY OUT, LOVING OTHERS IN HUMBLE OF WAYS, EMPTYING OURSELVES SO WE CAN DRENCH ANOTHER IN THE COMPASSION AND MERCY OF CHRIST.

There is, after all, beauty in late night sessions with a sleepless baby and days spent tending to sick children.

There’s beauty in the ugly, the mess, the pain, and the exhaustion of caregiving.

There’s beauty–God-glorifying beauty— in heading out the door each morning to a job that demands everything you’ve got and more so that you can provide for your family.

The beauty isn’t in the act itself.  It’s not in the changing diapers or the washing away filth.  It’s not in taking out trash or sitting through mind-numbing meetings where supervisors pile on work.

It’s that you’re doing all of that for someone else.

Your labor on behalf of others may not earn you any earthly regard.

You may trudge through another day of work without a nod in your direction and a genuine ‘thanks.’

Your child may overlook the fifty lunches you’ve made for her and complain the one day you forgot that she likes Oreos, not chocolate chip cookies.

And you can feel absolutely invisible.

But right in that moment, Christ chats with you.

He tells you everything the Father taught Him.

He asks if you’ll take part in His agenda, in His passion and plan for loving others with grace, mercy, compassion, generosity, and humility.

Not because He only values what we do for Him.

Not because we earn His favor by going, going, going all the time.

Not because He wants us constantly to be doing at all.

It’s because He’s offered us His presence—in the moments when we’re sitting at His feet and the moments we’re stooping to wash the feet of another.

He desires friendship, and friends aren’t acting out of duty or serving out of compulsion.

WE’RE LIVING AND BREATHING AND SERVING AND LOVING BECAUSE HE’S GIVEN US ACCESS TO HIS VERY HEART.

OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD MEANS WE DO AND WE CEASE DOING AT THE IMPULSE OF HIS LOVE: OUR LIVES, OUR HEARTS, OUR ACTIONS GUIDED AND MOTIVATED BY HIS VERY OWN LOVE AT WORK IN US.

Originally published 10/29/2016

Refresh others in Christ

It was just a little wave of the hand.

During our last week of summer break, my kids and I  trekked out to Colonial Williamsburg for a day.

We explored the market, took pictures of the horses pulling the carriages through town, and watched the weaver at work.

In and out of the crowd we wove from place to place.  My son kept trying to run ahead, but we’d draw him back in and tell him he had to “hold hands with one of the girls.”

So, he’d grip onto one sister’s palm.  Then another.  Trading back and forth.

Then I held his hand for a bit in one of the shops because–golly, there are a lot of fun things a three-year-old wants to touch and shouldn’t!  Glancing down, I saw him giving a little wave to  someone in the group of fellow visitors.

But we didn’t know anyone in the crowd.

So, a little confused, I followed my son’s gaze to see who he was connecting with.  That’s when I saw a man in an electronic  wheelchair just across from us return my son’s little wave with his own little nod of greeting.

As we moved from place to  place in the town that day,  I think we must have seen that same man with his family at least three different times and my son waved each time  to him.

It  was just the smallest thing.  An acknowledgement.  A little hello.

I don’t know why my three-year-old noticed this gentleman in particular or what encouraged him to make any sort of connection.  I  didn’t see him wave at another person the whole day.

But sometimes, I guess, you just know when someone needs a kind greeting, a friendly wave,  and a smile .

May we be noticers,  too.

May we pay attention to those around us.

May we be sensitive to a hurt heart,  a need,  or a bad day.

May we be “refreshers”–those who renew joy, renew strength, renew hope, and pour Jesus into the lives of others.

 

That’s one of Paul’s themes in his letter to Philemon.  He says:

 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you (verse 7).

What was it about Philemon that blessed the hearts of the saints around him?

Paul describes him this way:

I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.[a]

Philemon loved Jesus.

He loved others.

He shared his faith.

Life can tangle us up in complications and busyness.  Our own needs scream for attention and our own hurts can entice us to draw inwards instead of reaching out.

We have so many reasons, so  many reasonable reasons, to hold back.

I’m an introvert.  Hospitality and mercy are some of my greatest weaknesses.  I have four kids and a crazy schedule.

But Philemon wasn’t refreshing the hearts of others with an international ministry or a multi-step program.  It wasn’t a full-time job or a massive undertaking.

What he was doing wasn’t complex or time-consuming.

It was so simple:  Love Jesus.  Love others.  Share your faith.

Make the phone call.  Write the note.  Bake the cookies.   Set a time to get together.  Listen well. Pray hard.  Send a text.

Show love.

 

Jon Bloom wrote over at Desiring God:

Oh the precious, priceless ministry of refreshment. And oh how desperately needed it is. All around us are weary brothers and sisters who are slogging it out in a spiritual war (Ephesians 6:12) on a battlefield of a futile world (Romans 8:20).

Here’s the beautiful promise of  God for those who choose to be “refreshers:”

“whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25b)

None of us can be “refreshers” all the time.  We need refreshing.

We need others to bless and encourage us.  To jump in with some help when we’re weary.

And we don’t need to be afraid or ashamed to send out an SOS when we’re the ones who need refreshing.

We all feel the weariness sometimes.  We’ve carried that weight of discouragement before, or sorrow, or worry and fear.

Paul knew  that when he needed help he could ask for it.

When Paul requested mercy for the runaway slave, Onesimus, Paul asks Philemon once again to:

 Refresh my heart in Christ (verse 29).

We can’t always be refreshers—sometimes we need to be refreshed.

And when we’re refreshed, we’ll grow stale unless we in turn refresh others.  We give and we receive; we love and are loved; we refresh and are refreshed.

Living in a Neighborhood 101

Living in a neighborhood is new for us.

My kids have lived  their whole lives in a house on a busy street where cars sped around corners and it wasn’t safe to get your mail out of your mailbox,  much less bike ride or walk to  a friend’s house.   We had neighbors on one side of our yard, but an empty, wooded lot on the other side.

There was no communal place to play.  No sidewalks.   If my kids wanted to see friends, I arranged a play date and drove them back and forth.

When I wanted to  take a walk, I drove into town, unloaded the stroller, walked my son down Main Street and back, climbed back  into the minivan to drive home.

Now, though, we’re slipping into something new: Neighborhood life.

Friendly dogs pop over to  our house for random visits and we say hello to “Abby” the red-haired retriever and “Bruno” the little black and white fellow with the stubby tail from next door.

My daughter rides her bike for the first time pretty much ever and we take walks and wave to  people we know and even those we  don’t.

We call out to others about the beautiful weather when a summer’s evening feels unusually cool and we are blessed with extra tomatoes out of the abundance of a backyard garden nearby.

I feel held accountable to keep up with the garden weeds, even in the heat of July, even when I’m busy, even after a summer rain shower that makes everything grow like a jungle overnight.   No more calling it quits in my yard the first time the temperature hits 90 degrees.

After a week or so in our new house, my husband actually had to explain some neighborhood-life  tips to our kids.

  1.  You don’t have  to  ring your own doorbell when you get home from being outside.  This is your own house . You can just come on in.
  2. Don’t just invite yourself over for dinner at a friend’s.  If they are ready to eat dinner, come on home.

We’re all learning and adjusting a bit.

Maybe learning to  live in a neighborhood is a lesson for all of us.

Maybe it doesn’t come naturally, this staying close, being held accountable,  giving and taking and sharing and caring.

After all,  even Jesus’s followers didn’t always know what to  do.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Great!

But, who is my neighbor anyway and do I really have to love ‘that guy’?

The disciples surely had some growing to do in the neighborhood-life department, too.  They weren’t alike and perhaps didn’t have that much in common outside of Jesus.

They were fishermen and a tax collector, a zealot, and Nathaniel sounds to me like a well-educated skeptic.

Some were related by blood, some were friends, others were outsiders.

And, as people in close  proximity are wont to do, they fought over superiority and responsibilities and decisions.

What drew them together wasn’t their “sameness.”  It was  simply going where Jesus was going, following where Jesus led them,  working together as a team to  minister as Jesus sent them out.

They were fellow-travelers and “bunk mates.”  Surely, they had to learn to be each other’s neighbor along the way.

In the Old Testament, Ruth declared her never-ending,  stick-to-it loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi like this:

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God (Ruth 1:16 ESV).

This is what she promised :  “I’ll go with you.”

There can’t be many sentences in this life more powerful than that. 

Not just “I’ll pray for you” or “I hope you have a nice trip” or even “I’ll watch your stuff until you get back.”

Not that.  This:  I’ll pack my bags and put on my walking shoes and I will  go with you.  

The disciples traveled together.

Ruth and Naomi traveled  together.

Who is  traveling with you?

Stacey Thacker writes,

The presence of a friend can encourage us to not turn back in grief, but to look forward with hope (Fresh Out of Amazing). 

We all need a little  whisper  of hope today and we all know someone who needs us to whisper hope to them.

None of us can traipse along as fellow-travelers with every single person we meet.  We’d be drained and exhausted.

But we can’t  set off all by our lonesome selves  either.

Instead, God draws us to the right people and we choose to follow His lead.  We whisper the words to them….or maybe they whisper to us:  “I’ll go with you.  We can be neighbors.”

Bible Verses on Compassion

  • Exodus 22:27b NIV
    When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
  • Exodus 33:19 NIV
    And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
  • Exodus 34:6 NIV
     And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness
  • Deuteronomy 13:17 NIV
    and none of the condemned things are to be found in your hands. Then the Lordwill turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors—
  • Deuteronomy 30:3 NIV
    then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
  • 2 Kings 13:23 NIV
    But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence.
  • 2 Chronicles 30:9 NIV
    If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
  • Nehemiah 9:17 NIV
     They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
  • Nehemiah 9:19 NIV
    Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take
  • Psalm 51:1 NIV
  • Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
  • Psalm 86:15 NIV
    But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
  • Psalm 90:13 NIV
    Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
        Have compassion on your servants.
  • Psalm 102:13 NIV
    You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
        for it is time to show favor to her;
        the appointed time has come.
  • Psalm 103:4 NIV
    who redeems your life from the pit
        and crowns you with love and compassion
  • Psalm 103:8 NIV
    The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
        slow to anger, abounding in love
  • Psalm 103:13 NIV
    As a father has compassion on his children,
        so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
  • Psalm 111:4 NIV
    He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
        the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
  • Psalm 112:4 NIV
    Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
        for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
  • Psalm 116:5 NIV
    The Lord is gracious and righteous;
        our God is full of compassion.
  • Psalm 119:77 NIV
    Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
        for your law is my delight.
  • Psalm 119:156 NIV
    Your compassion, Lord, is great;
        preserve my life according to your laws.
  • Psalm 135:14 NIV
    For the Lord will vindicate his people
        and have compassion on his servants.
  • Psalm 145:8-9 NIV
    The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
        slow to anger and rich in love.
    The Lord is good to all;
        he has compassion on all he has made.
  • Isaiah 14:1 NIV
    The Lord will have compassion on Jacob;
        once again he will choose Israel
        and will settle them in their own land.
    Foreigners will join them
        and unite with the descendants of Jacob.
  • Isaiah 30:18 NIV
    Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
        therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
    For the Lord is a God of justice.
        Blessed are all who wait for him!
  • Isaiah 49:10 NIV
    They will neither hunger nor thirst,
        nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
    He who has compassion on them will guide them
        and lead them beside springs of water.
  • Isaiah 49:13 NIV
    Shout for joy, you heavens;
        rejoice, you earth;
        burst into song, you mountains!
    For the Lord comforts his people
        and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
  • Isaiah 49:15 NIV
    “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
        and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
    Though she may forget,
        I will not forget you!
  • Isaiah 51:3 NIV
    The Lord will surely comfort Zion
        and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
    he will make her deserts like Eden,
        her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
    Joy and gladness will be found in her,
        thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
  • Isaiah 54:7-10 NIV
    “For a brief moment I abandoned you,
        but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
    In a surge of anger
        I hid my face from you for a moment,
    but with everlasting kindness
        I will have compassion on you,”
        says the Lord your Redeemer.
    “To me this is like the days of Noah,
        when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
    So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
        never to rebuke you again./
    10 Though the mountains be shaken
        and the hills be removed,
    yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
        nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
        says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
  • Isaiah 60:10 NIV
    “Foreigners will rebuild your walls,
        and their kings will serve you.
    Though in anger I struck you,
        in favor I will show you compassion.
  • Isaiah 63:7 NIV
    I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to hiscompassion and many kindnesses.
  • Jeremiah 12:15 NIV
    But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country.
  • Jeremiah 31:20 NIV
    Is not Ephraim my dear son,
        the child in whom I delight?
    Though I often speak against him,
        I still remember him.
    Therefore my heart yearns for him;
        I have great compassion for him,”
    declares the Lord.
  • Jeremiah 42:12 NIV
    I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’
  • Lamentations 3:22 NIV
    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
        for his compassions never fail.
  • Lamentations 3:32 NIV
    Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
        so great is his unfailing love.
  • Ezekiel 39:25 NIV
    Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob[a] and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name.
  • Hosea 2:19 NIV
    I will betroth you to me forever;
        I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
        in love and compassion.
  • Joel 2:13 NIV
    Rend your heart
        and not your garments.
    Return to the Lord your God,
        for he is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and abounding in love,
        and he relents from sending calamity.
  • Jonah 4:2 NIV
    He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
  • Micah 7:19 NIV
    You will again have compassion on us;
        you will tread our sins underfoot
        and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
  • Zechariah 7:9 NIV
    This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.
  • Zechariah 10:6 NIV
    I will strengthen Judah and save the tribes of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.
  • Malachi 3:17 NIV
    “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.
  • Matthew 9:36 ESV
    When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
  • Matthew 14:14 ESV
    When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on themand healed their sick.
  • Matthew 20:34 NIV
    Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
  • Mark 6:34 ESV
     When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
  • Luke 7:13-15 ESV
    And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her,“Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
  • Luke 15:20 NIV
    So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
  • Romans 9:15 NIV
    For he says to Moses,

    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
        and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

  • 2 Corinthians 1:3 NIV
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
  • Ephesians 4:23 NIV
    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
  • Philippians 2:1-2 NIV
    Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
  • Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
    Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
  • James 5:11 NIV
    As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
  • 1 Peter 3:8 NIV
    Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble