In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”
Loving Our Neighbor
Ananias knew who Saul was. He knew all that Saul had done in Jerusalem to arrest and condemn Christians to death. He knew that Saul had now come to Damascus, with the authority of the chief priests, to do the same thing. And so, Ananias was uneasy, to say the least, when the Lord told him to go to Saul and restore his sight.
Would any of us have reacted any differently than Ananias did? How easy is it for us to show love (or even kindness) to someone who has shown nothing but hatred toward us? How much easier would it be to just write that person off as someone who’s not worthy of our love?
But the Lord didn’t give Ananias the option of just writing Saul off as dangerous and not worthy of love. God had plans for Saul. Even more than that, God loved Saul. Therefore, God also wanted Ananias to love Saul. And with God’s love living in him, Ananias would be able to love Saul, even as God loved him.
Loving our neighbor is not always easy, especially when that neighbor has not shown love to us. Yet our neighbor’s lack of love does not excuse us from loving them. Regardless of who they are, God still loves them. Therefore, he also wants us to love them. And as God’s love lives in us, we also will be able to love all our neighbors, just as God in Christ has loved each of us.
Lord, let your love overflow through me to all those who are around me. Amen.
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