Who is My Neighbor?

PathHeader_blue (1)

Do you ever find that some people are hard to like… harder still to love? While there are times when it may be enough to simply avoid conflict with these folks, there are other times when God calls us to do something more.

In Jesus’ day, there was a religious expert of the law who questioned Him about inheriting eternal life. As they conversed, the topic focused on the importance of loving God wholeheartedly and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The latter gave rise to a follow-up question: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 11:29b, NIV)

The Scripture tells us that the religious expert asked this question in order to “justify himself” (Luke 11:29a). If there was a loophole, he wanted to find it. If there was an exception to the rule, he wanted to know about it.

A few thousand years later we continue to ask that age-old question: Who is my neighbor? Is it the annoying driver who cuts me off during rush hour traffic? Is it the elderly lady who lives just down the street? Is it the impoverished child who lives far away?

Yes, yes, and yes!  It is this and so much more. Our neighbors are the people we do know, and the people we don’t know. They are the ones we care about, and the ones we barely tolerate. It’s the folks who live next door and the ones who live halfway across the globe.

Final Thoughts  

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27, NIV). That’s a tall order and an impossible task to undertake in our own strength. Could it be that we are better equipped to succeed in loving our neighbors when we have learned to love God with all that we have and all that we are?

Loving God begins with knowing God – staying in His Word, spending time in His sweet presence, being transformed by His amazing grace. As our hearts come into alignment with His, there may still be those who are hard for us to love. However, we will be equipped with a new level of compassion minister to those in need of understanding and mercy. Walking in grace and forgiveness may still be a challenge, but with the Spirit’s empowerment, it is possible. Walk the path.

DalePyneCropped

Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

Did you find this post helpful?

When Time Stands Still

PathHeader_blue (1)

Sometimes I manage to get through the day only to feel like it was a total loss. Where did time go? What really happened? Was anything of value accomplished? At times, one seemingly unproductive day spills over into the next, until an entire week is gone… completely, totally, utterly gone! Then as I turn the page to the next month on the calendar, what did I have to show for all those days? Sometimes not a whole lot.

When it comes to our struggling relationships, there are moments when we find ourselves dealing with similar issues. The relationship today is no better than it was yesterday…or the day before that. No progress is made. No fences are mended. No healing has occurred. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years. All the while, there is no evidence that substantial progress has been made in moving a strained relationship to a stronger, healthier place.

If you’ve been following this blog over the past several weeks, you are familiar with the relational struggles that existed between the two brothers, Jacob and Esau. The tension between them climaxed when Jacob deceitfully stole the blessing of the firstborn. Esau responded to this injustice with a death threat, forcing Jacob to move away.

Many years later, God prompted Jacob that it was time to return home. Jacob experienced great angst about seeing Esau again, but when the two brothers finally met: “…Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” (Genesis 33:4, NIV)

Though Scripture does not chronicle Esau’s journey to forgiveness, eventually Esau was able to give up the grudge and offer his brother the priceless gift of grace.

Final Thoughts…  

When your heart is aching, longing for a relationship to be restored, it may seem that time is standing still. Yet even in the most hopeless situations, it could be that God is at work behind the scenes, gently chipping away at the bitterness and anger that is standing in the way of reconciliation.

So, keep your heart in a state of readiness. Go to the Father and stay in a right relationship with Him. It may not be today, tomorrow, next month, or even next year. Still, there is hope that even the most badly broken relationships can be made whole again. Don’t lose heart. Walk the path.

DalePyneCropped

Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

Did you find this post helpful?

Hearts that Wrestle and Hearts that Rest

PathHeader_blue (1)

If you could arrange a face to face meeting with God Himself, how would you spend that time with Him? Maybe you’ve pondered this possibility before, or perhaps you are considering it for the first time. Either way, there’s little doubt that an experience like this would be a pivotal moment in your life.

In Scripture, we read of Jacob’s very personal and powerful encounter with the Lord that was probably far different than anything he would have planned (Genesis 32:1-32). It took place as he was returning to his original home with his family, servants, and livestock. As he traveled, he learned that his brother, Esau, was on his way to meet him… and he wasn’t coming alone. Instead, he was being escorted by a band of four hundred men! Given the threat Esau had previously made on his life, Jacob was fearful – and with good reason.

In his moment of distress, Jacob called on the Lord. Then, he took steps to protect his family and to ease tensions with his estranged brother. Later that evening, Jacob was alone when he had an unusual encounter with someone, whom he eventually recognized to be the Lord Himself – and they wrestled… all night long.

…[Then] the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:26-28, NIV)

Before facing his brother, Jacob faced his God. He determined in his heart to work things out with his Maker, and he didn’t let go of Him until this occurred. While we may not be aware of all that took place in that long struggle between God and man, we do know that Jacob was vigilant in claiming the blessing of God.

Final Thoughts…  

When we are pursuing peace with family, friends, or foes, often times, peace with others is possible when we’ve first made peace with God. It starts with getting alone with Him, and when necessary, relentlessly wrestling through the good, the bad, and the ugly in our lives.

If you find yourself in conflict, you may wonder if the heart that wrestles inside you can become a heart that is at rest. Indeed, it can. Hold on to your Savior, and don’t let go! Peace awaits. Walk the path.

DalePyneCropped

Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

Did you find this post helpful?

Landmark Moments

PathHeader_blue (1)

There are many national monuments that powerfully commemorate significant people and events in our nation’s history – the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, and Mount Rushmore, to name a few.

Yet, you and I don’t just have national landmarks. We each have personal landmarks, too. For you it may be a childhood home, or a quiet park where you’ve sat and had precious quiet times with the Lord. That special spot where you said I do, or maybe that place where you said a final goodbye…. places where friendships ended, and places where they were mended.

As we read of Jacob and Laban, we see that their relationship had been punctuated by stress for several years (Genesis 30:25-31:55). At what appears to be the height of the tension, the Lord came to Jacob and instructed him that it was time to return home. Following the Lord’s guidance, Jacob left, but without so much as a good-bye to Laban, his father-in-law. When Laban made this discovery, his anger was stirred and he pursued Jacob to confront him about what had taken place.

When Laban finally caught up to Jacob, the two men spoke openly about their issues. While they both made mistakes in handling their differences, before going their separate ways, they vowed that they would do no harm to each other. As a reminder of their covenant, Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap…. Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today,” (Genesis 31:45-46, 48, NIV).

For Laban and Jacob, their journey to peace involved calling a truce and parting ways. If you find yourself in a similar situation, live up to your agreement. Honor it. Memorialize it. You don’t have to gather stones into a pile, but even if it is only in your heart, create your own personal remembrance of the time and the place when you resolved to live at peace with your fellow man.

Final thoughts…

As I close, I confess that there are landmarks on my path to peace that remind me of conflicts that ended well, and conflicts in which the outcome could have been, well… better. Still, with each step I take on this path, I have learned to rely on God, to realign my heart with His, and to approach others with humility and grace. Will you join me in this journey? Walk the path.

DalePyneCropped

Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

Did you find this post helpful?