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Kent Hughes, who pastored in Chicago, tells something which happened to a dear friend. This lady was a missionary on furlough after a particularly difficult season of service. Now, for the first time since they had been missionaries, they had bought a place of their own to rest and recover. The lady loved the patio and made it the focus of her decoration efforts.

After a few months some new neighbors moved in. The best word to describe them would be coarse. Loud music sounded day and night, along with many obscenities. They even went to the bathroom in the front yard in broad daylight! One day the neighbor’s children sprayed orange paint all over her beautiful patio—the walls, the floors—everything! She was distraught and furious. She tried to pray but found herself crying out, “I cannot love them. I hate them!”

Knowing she had to deal with the sin in her heart, she began to converse with the Lord in her inner being, and a Scripture came to mind: “And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3.14). In her heart she questioned, “Lord, how do I put on love?” The only way she could picture it was like putting on a coat. So she did that—she wrapped herself in the love of God! As a result she began to experience a deeper life of Christ within her.

She made a list of what she would do if she really loved her exasperating neighbors, then did what she had listed. She baked cookies, she baby-sat for free, she invited the mother over for coffee—and the most beautiful thing happened! She began to know and understand them. She began to see that they were living under tremendous pressures. She began to love her “enemies.” She did good to them. She lent to them without expecting anything back. And when they moved, she wept!

She showed mercy, and she was changed. You think about that. Amen.

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