Loving My Neighbor, Not Assuming the Worst

When our neighbor parked at the edge of his driveway at our previous home, it made it challenging for us to pull into and out of our driveway. This used to drive me crazy! 

One day when we were coming home from camping with a lot of supplies, this neighbor was parked not only on the edge of his driveway but partly onto the street. This made it impossible for us to pull into our driveway. I demanded that my husband, Phil, address this with the neighbor. I went inside to begin unpacking and heard the neighbor approach Phil. The neighbor apologized for how he was parked and said he was waiting for AAA because his battery had died. Oops! Boy, did I immediately feel small for jumping to conclusions and assuming my neighbor was purposely making things hard for me. He was facing a stressful situation. Rather than extend him grace, I assumed negative intentions.

Recently, when I again jumped to conclusions and assumed negative intentions about someone, a wise person shared counsel from the Bible with me. A civil war in Israel nearly broke out because people almost acted without knowing all the facts. God prohibited altars from being built in Deuteronomy 12:1-14 unless he commanded them. Furthermore, God commanded in Deuteronomy 13:12-16 that the city’s inhabitants must be destroyed if altars or idols were built. In Joshua 22:1–34, the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh (the eastern tribes) built an altar to honor God and remind the generations to come they were still Israelites. The western tribes became concerned hearing the eastern tribes created an altar. They began preparing to destroy the eastern land because they assumed the eastern tribes were disobeying God’s commands. Fortunately, the western leadership took time to investigate why the eastern tribes built the altar before any violence ensued and realized their intentions were for good. The eastern tribes were not sinning or purposely disobeying God; in fact, the altar was to promote the worship of God. Rather than begin a war, the tribes praised God together. “And the report was good in the eyes of the people of Israel. And the people of Israel blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and the people of Gad were settled” (Joshua 22:33). 

In our sinful nature, we see people’s flaws and make assumptions without knowing the whole story. Fortunately, our loving God sees us through Christ’s sacrifice and has promoted us to be heirs of his kingdom despite our sin (Titus 3:7). Additionally, because God is love (1 John 4:7), he teaches us to love others and live in harmony. Therefore, we can prevent conflict by taking time to investigate the whole story, assuming positive intentions, extending grace, and finding opportunities to worship God with others.

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