TRANSCRIPT: Good morning, Five Minute Families. We hope you and yours have stayed safe in this blast of snowy weather so much of the US has experienced this past week.
Valentine’s Day is coming up! Who has plans for a special dinner, a nice piece of jewelry, a lovingly handcrafted item, or an extraordinary adventure? Many folks take Valentine’s Day to the next level. In fact, we have a family member whose favorite day of the entire year is Valentine’s Day (let’s hope her husband never forgets that!). So, what is Valentine’s Day really about?
Within the Catholic church, there are three Saint Valentine’s in history and their stories are each different. Yet, each contains elements of bravery and kindness. We know that in the 5th century the Pope declared February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day. Likewise, this time of year has long been celebrated in cultures around the world as one of romance. Rituals and ceremonies accompanied some of those celebrations. By 1375, a written account of celebrating romantic love on February 14th appears in historical records. So, no, Valentine’s Day is not a holiday invented by the card companies, chocolatiers, and florists of the world to make more money off of you. Sorry, guys, you can’t use that excuse anymore!
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic love or a day to celebrate relationships in general, the point is that we all have an opportunity to show love to another. God is our first, best, and ultimate example of love. The love in EVERY relationship, if founded on the unconditional example of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, can be a wonderful, fulfilling love that brings peace, comfort, and compassion.
Our local church had a wonderful idea for celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. Each person would bring in a non-perishable food item for the church to take over to a local food drive program. In exchange, the church member would receive a box of chocolates. The kicker though… those chocolates aren’t for the church member. They are for a neighbor of the church member – a sweet way to share a quick invitation to join us at church or to open a conversation about what Jesus has done in our lives and why we share about Him.
Let’s talk neighbors for a minute. Are you following Jesus’s words in Matthew 22 when He tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves? Have you had a dispute with a neighbor in which you behaved in a unChristlike fashion? Have you “lost your witness,” so to speak?
Maybe you don’t have a dispute with your neighbor but you don’t like how he or she keeps the yard and you are constantly irritated and, thus, not rude but truly not very kind when you get home each evening and the neighbor’s family is outside playing in the yard? Maybe you have an excellent relationship with your neighbors and feel that you can trust them to help protect your home and family.
God wants us to be good neighbors and to be glorifying Him in those relationships. That is why He advises these next five things about neighbors in His word:
1. Romans 13:10 points out that love does no wrong to a neighbor.
2. Leviticus 19:18 reminds us not to take vengeance or even bear a grudge against a neighbor.
3. If Luke 6:27 tells us to do good to our enemies, how much more so should we be willing to do good to our neighbors?
4. Ephesians 4:25 says that we are not speak falsely to our neighbors.
5. And, finally for our list today, Romans 15:2 encourages us to please our neighbors for their good to build them up.
Here are some practical applications of God’s ways to love your neighbors:
When there is conflict, for example their dog keeps coming into your yard, go and speak with them kindly. Offer understanding and your desired solution.
Be aware of differences in the seasons of life. If you have young children and live next to an aging couple who is battling cancer, taking naps at random parts of the day, the noise from your children may be upsetting to them. They may not want to tell you all that they are experiencing, so all you may see is a grumpy old man throwing angry glances at you the next time you are both out.
We live in a much more isolated world now than we once did. We are more connected via devices, but not many folks stand outside and have a simple conversation with their neighbor. If you have work you are about to have happen on your property, share with your neighbor what is coming and how long it is scheduled to last.
Take a moment to look at your place from their perspective. Does your compost pile face their place, ruining the otherwise pleasant view they had of a God-painted sunset?
Help with yardwork if they are going through a tough season. And, be willing to ask for help if you are.
Five Minute Families, communicating clearly and kindly honors God and helps to build stronger relationships, and that applies to loving your neighbor as yourself.
May God give you the opportunity to show love to a neighbor this week, and may you bless each other by responding to that opportunity. Please let us know how you celebrate Valentine’s Day on our Clear View Retreat facebook page. God bless!