When my husband, Joe, and I moved to our current home with our two young sons many years ago, we realized pretty quickly that the children in our neighborhood were, for the most part, troublemakers. So we made the difficult decision of forbidding our sons to play with them. As a result, we began experiencing a barrage of attacks on our home and property. The destruction to our house was so severe that our insurance company eventually paid to have all of our aluminum siding replaced. When the attacks were especially serious, we would call the police, and even get the courts involved, which, unfortunately, did us very little good. Once, when the police did come to our aid, Joe overheard one of our neighbors telling them, "They deserve it! They've brought all this on themselves!" We were shocked, and could hardly comprehend that this lady would think that we deserved such mistreatment because we set boundaries for our children which we knew were in their best interests. Not long after that, this lady's husband left her for another woman, and her life and family have never been the same since.
When I think about this woman, I can't help thinking about some verses in the book of Job which say - "How dare you go on persecuting me, saying, 'It's his own fault'? You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment. Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment." (Job 19:28-29 NLT) Our hostile neighbor never realized that her spitefulness was going to cause her to reap a bitter harvest that would tear apart her own family. I have learned over the years how wishing harm to come to someone can have a boomerang effect, and can come back to haunt us in the future. Jesus said as much when He told us - "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier." (Luke 6:37 MSG)
Joe and I forgave our neighbor long ago, and we have been on good terms with her for many years now. We never bring up the past, or accuse her for her hurtful words or attitude. And God has blessed us greatly in this neighborhood by causing us to live in peace here, and to find favor with all of our neighbors.
Jesus said, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36 NIV) Who is it that you need to show mercy toward today?
Lord, I long to be merciful, just as You are merciful. Please work in my heart, so that I can show everyone the kind of love and respect that You do. Guard me from a bitter, spiteful, and critical spirit. Remind me that You have forgiven me for a lot, and I need to forgive others. (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32) Thank You for the rewards and blessings that I will reap as I love and live Your way!
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