Relationships can be difficult to the point that we do everything we can to avoid them. We do our best to find people that we “click” with rather than interacting with anyone God puts in our path. I believe this is what Christ had in mind when He said to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39; neighbor means anyone in close proximity). Loving our neighbor seems to mean, in our culture those we click with because other relationships can cause too much pain, but Christ says He blesses these circumstances more (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:9-21).
 
Two porcupines in Northern Canada huddled together to get warm, according to a forest folktale. But their quills pricked each other, so they moved apart. Before long they were shivering, so they slid close again. Soon both were getting jabbed again. Same story; same ending. They needed each other, but they kept needling each other. Relationships can be painful, but a person survives better and grows more when pain directs them to a deeper commitment to obey God (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). “By this, we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments… but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. … (1 John 2:3-6)
 
Two little teardrops were floating down the river. One teardrop asked the other, “Who are you?” The second teardrop replied, “I’m from a woman who lost her lover. And you?” The first teardrop said, “I’m from the woman who got him?”  (Michael Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching) In a “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy says to Snoopy: “There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a big hug.” Snoopy replies: “That’s the way I am … huggable and buggable” (Robert L. Short, Parables of Peanuts) Christ can be huggable when He blesses us, but when He seems quiet and unresponsive to our concerns He seems “buggable,” especially when He says; “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you… Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:27-31) Christ says this is because He is seeking to reward us and strengthen us, all at the same time. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? … But love your enemies, and do good, …; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He, Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  (Luke 6:28-36; NASU)
 
Pain can either grow us or harden us; growing is always better (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:3-9).

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