Psalm 119: 11 NIV
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
I saw several of my friends sharing a poignant parable of an Amish man being asked if he lives his life in a Christian way. The man barely skips a beat and tells the visitor “You’ll need to ask my neighbor.”
One of the easiest ways we find ourselves sinning against God is through the way we treat our friends, family, and neighbors.
Robert Frost had a poem published in 1914 called Mending Walls. It is a powerful poem in that it is a conversation between two neighbors – one who believes that fences are essential and the other who doesn’t believe that at all. Throughout the poem you read the line “Good fences make good neighbors.”
The two men are walking the fence and bantering and the neighbor who doesn’t enjoy the wall says:
“If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? It isn't!
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.”
In our lives we constantly put up fences with both those who are closest to us as well as strangers. Almost immediately we begin to see our differences rather than our similarities. I had a black friend in Philadelphia who told me once that he grew up in an all white high school in Connecticut and went to an all black school so that he no longer could be described as “that so and so’s black friend”. He wanted to hear himself described by his eyes, or walk, or anything other than that. As we engage the world we live in – too often we immediately see the differences rather than our similarities and often put up fences.
Jenna and I were driving to Pueblo the other day on HWY 50 and between Manzanola and Fowler had a large black pick-up truck expressed road rage – came within inches of hitting our rear end for nearly a mile and when he finally had enough – he whipped by us and both he and his co-pilot rolled down the window yelling obscenities and finally stuck out their hands to tell us we were actually their number one. The sad part is I recognized the driver from La Junta but they didn’t recognize me.
The Amish man in the parable simply instructs, ask my neighbor.
Are we sinning against God in how we treat each other? Perhaps in the way we divide ourselves and through our overt and covert actions towards others?
Scripture says to hide God’s word in our hearts but we mustn’t wall it in. We must remain open to love, show mercy and grace, and share the Gospel with all we encounter – even when it is difficult.
Pray: Gracious God, help us remember your love for us and always be willing to share that love with others. May we constantly seek you for guidance and renewed patience. Move in our spirits new love and kindness and openness so we may be true conduits of grace. AMEN.
Read: 1 Kings 21
Act: Send a card to someone this week who you put up a fence. It can be a funny card, a blank card, even a sentimental card. The way we chip away at fences is we open up lines of communication.
Yourself: Make your absolute favorite dinner or go out to get it at a restaurant if you don’t like cooking and doing all those dishes. Treat yourself by enjoying each bite. Remember as you taste what you love so much about that dish – maybe it’s a memory or the symphony of flavors or the savory/sweetness of it.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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601 San Juan Ave
La Junta, CO 81050
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