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Hope for the Week

"Love your neighbor as yourself; but don't take down the fence." ...Carl Sandburg

     When Jesus was teaching, the Pharisees, who were Jewish religious leaders, asked Him which of the ten commandments was the greatest. They were trying to trip Jesus up, however, His response was perfect.  "And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.' ” Matthew 22:37-40 How true this passage is. Everything that life is built on can be greatly affected, for better or worse, by how much we embrace these two principles into our lives.  
     The first of these two commandments applies directly to Christians. The question is how often do we truly love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? Too many times we give our hearts to our spouse, our children, our friends and so on. Even though our soul belongs to God, we spend so much of our time doing things that have no eternal significance. Or, we spend our time doing things that we think will make us "good Christians" or we'll get God to give us what we want. The truth is, many times we want God's stuff and are not really concerned with a relationship with Him. Our minds, well those are usually everywhere but where they should be. The easiest way to make sure our heart, soul, and mind are in line with God is to start everyday with two goals. One, ask what we can do to reach others for Christ. Two, do whatever we can to grow our relationship with Him. If we do these two things, our love for God will grow and His love will fill us and overflow to others.      
     Most people, Christians and non-Christians, face two common problems when trying to follow the second of the two commandments. It seems that today, more than ever, we don't know how to love people, especially those outside our small circle of family and friends. This is why we have growing tensions in the workplace, road rage, fights in the stands at sporting events, and worse. The second problem is, even when we love someone, we want to keep the fences up. We live with the DTA mindset, Don't Trust Anyone. So, how do we overcome these two issues. First, the Bible says:
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them." Matthew 7:12 We can't live by the mindset of: "Do to others as they did to you." This thought process is a huge problem today. We must put ourselves aside and do right by people first and love them as we do ourselves. Secondly, we must tear down the fences. We put up fences because we are scared. Scared of being hurt, of what people think, there are a multitude of different reasons why we refuse to let people in. We also put up fences because we become judgmental. We push people away because of the way they live, their past, or just because we think we are better or more righteous than them. The truth is, none of us are righteous. We all have sinned and we all have a past. Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." Mark 2:17  When we leave fences up, they keep lost people from reaching salvation, they keep fallen Christians from healing, and when we're the ones on the other side, they keep us from the healing we need. Just stop and think of how many problems that we currently face, that would be non-existent if we loved others as ourselves.   
     Starting this week, work on putting God first everyday and loving Him. Put a smile on your face and let others see God's light shinning through you, don't walk around like you just left a funeral. And lastly, find someone who needs some love and start applying these principles to help them and yourself.

Have a good week and smile!
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