The greeting card aisles at the supermarkets are filled with hearts and flowers; the candy aisles with chocolate in heart-shaped boxes. When Jesus said we are to love our neighbor, did he mean to feel sweet and sentimental and send them flowers and candy? What if we don’t actually like them? Or what if we think they shouldn’t even be our neighbor?
Consider the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Did the Samaritan and the injured man love each other; that is, did they feel all sweet and sentimental about each other? I doubt it. They’d probably been raised to be suspicious of each other. Yet the Samaritan did the right thing. He treated the man with respect, generosity, and kindness. That was how he loved his neighbor, whether they liked each other or not.
Love isn’t about emotion; it’s about action. That’s how we love our neighbors, no matter how we feel about them. We do the right thing for them. Flowers and candy are nowhere near as sweet as doing the right thing.
This message is excerpted from “How can we do the right thing for our neighbor today?” by Audrey Novak Riley from the January 31, 2019, blog of the Women of the ELCA.
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