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The Art of Neighboring - Week 4 - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

Luke 7:38 “Broken and weeping, she covered his feet with the tears that fell from her face. She kept crying and drying his feet with her long hair. Over and over she kissed Jesus’ feet. Then she opened her flask and anointed his feet with her costly perfume as an act of worship.” (TPT)

When Receiving Becomes Giving

Luke 7:36-50 describes a scene worthy of inclusion in the most scandalous of movie scripts. A woman with the worst reputation and of the most despised occupation walks into the pristine home of a wealthy and revered religious leader. As if that weren’t shocking enough, she then does three unfathomable things: she touches Jesus, she publicly pours out all of her emotions at His feet, and she spends the equivalent of a year’s wages in a manner of seconds. Jesus already had a reputation for accepting dinner invitations from both members of high society as well as widely-acknowledged outcasts. But when those two segments of the community collided in a fantastic display during one meal, the impact was both explosive and achingly beautiful. As Jesus graciously received the woman’s three-fold gift, He modeled for us a vital aspect of loving our neighbors — sometimes receiving is just as important as giving. 

Just imagine this scene transpiring in the opposite direction. Envision what would’ve happened if Jesus had rejected any of her three actions. He could’ve told her to stop touching His feet because men and women were not supposed to touch in public, much less a prostitute and a prophet, as the Pharisees called Jesus. He could’ve shamed her for displaying raw emotion. That was also a big no-no back then. And no one would’ve batted an eye if He had encouraged her to give the money to the poor. By allowing her to make that kind of financial sacrifice, He was willing to take on the mantle of social shame Himself. This story is so familiar to most of us, our imaginations are not powerful enough to re-write the ending. Yet, how often are we presented with a similar, although, far less controversial situation, with neighbors or acquaintances who don’t fit in with our desired social circle, or have far different tastes than we do, or simply offer us something we wouldn’t normally want? 

Jesus knew that this woman’s greatest joy would be fulfilled if He received her gift with grace, warmth, and appreciation. Anything less — even a lukewarm reaction — and she would’ve left utterly despondent. If He had refused her gift, she would’ve interpreted His action to be a rejection of her and a complete dismissal of her worth to God. But Jesus didn’t refuse her gift, just as He didn’t refuse anyone else's dinner invitations… even those of His enemies. Jesus knew that accepting what people have to give is the first step to leading their hearts to the greatest gift of all. The apostle, Paul, brings home this truth for us in 1 Corinthians 10:27 and 31, where he writes, “If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

Sometimes in the messy process of loving our neighbors, Jesus will ask us to do what He did — receive a gift we wouldn’t necessarily prefer. The great news is, He will never ask us to do anything that He won’t give us the power, strength, grace, and mercy to do. Acts 20:35 reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but in the Kingdom of God, when the act of receiving is motivated by love for another, it becomes an act of giving every time. 

This week as you reflect on the Scripture readings, begin each day by asking God to teach you how to receive from your neighbors as an act of love. This may mean asking for their help when you really want to do something on your own, or simply accepting a dinner invitation, knowing you may not especially enjoy the food. As you spend time with Jesus each day, ask Him to help transform your relationships with your neighbors from superficial interactions into Kingdom encounters. 

Daily Bible Readings

For this week’s readings, we will be going through Luke 7:36-50 and reflecting on one truth from the passage each day.

Monday - Before reading today, take a few moments to still your mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your mind and open your heart to the passage you’re about to study. Read Luke 7:36-50 slowly, taking the time to become familiar with the complete story. As you read, imagine yourself in the story as a dinner guest and write down anything unusual or interesting about the setting, the people, or the interactions. Who do you identify with the most and why? Spend a few minutes with your eyes closed letting the story replay in your mind. Ask God to prepare your heart this week to receive what He has for you. 

Tuesday - Read Luke 7:36 and Romans 5:10. While at first glance the opening to our story in Luke appears to be simple, it reveals something very important. Jesus accepted the invitation of an enemy… an enemy who was likely one of the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him. While it is unlikely that your neighbor has such malicious intentions as Simon did for Jesus, the thought of sharing a meal with a neighbor who has a very different political perspective or value system than yours may make you very hesitant to accept their invitation. Spend time meditating on Romans 5:10 and ask God to encourage you in the direction He wants you to go. 

Wednesday Read Luke 7:37-38. This woman’s bad reputation in the neighborhood was widespread. Everyone knew who she was and what she did for a living. Some would undoubtedly say that she had nothing to lose by brazenly displaying her affection for Jesus in front of the most prestigious people in town. Spend time thinking about each of your neighbors, and ask God to fill your heart with compassion, especially for the ones who may not have a great reputation. Ask Him to give you the eyes to see who they could become at the feet of Jesus, transformed by His love and forgiveness. Now turn your reflection on yourself. Would you be vulnerable enough to do what this woman did in front of all of her neighbors? Ask Jesus to flood your heart with that kind of love for Him.   

Thursday Read Luke 7:39-43. Spend a few moments pondering why Jesus chose to tell Simon a parable in the midst of this shocking scene. How does the parable answer Simon’s insinuation that Jesus lacks the power to discern that a sinful woman was touching Him? Ask God to help you be like the moneylender in the parable, freely offering forgiveness to any neighbors who’ve offended you or not always kept their yard or house the way you’d prefer. Then spend time praising God for the endless forgiveness offered to you through Jesus.     

Friday - Read Luke 7:44-50. This story closes with three contrasting pictures: humility and pride… authenticity and superficial performance… extravagant love and lukewarm regard. Read verses 44-50 again looking for evidence of those three contrasts and write down anything that the Holy Spirit whispers to you concerning how He wants you to love your neighbors. Spend time praying for each of your immediate neighbors, asking God to give you eyes to see and a heart to serve. 

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to Jesus each day and explore what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

Want to Go Even Further? 
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study. 

STUDY GUIDE - THE ART OF NEIGHBORING - WEEK 4

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