Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet. // Proverbs 29:5
As many of you know, we have a move ahead of us.
Processing this with my 9 yr old daughter Kali the other night, she said to me, "Daddy, at our new house, I don't want to tell our new neighbors you are a pastor right away or put a bunch of crosses around our house, because I don't want them to think that we're just being friends with them so that they will become Christians."
There's some wisdom there.
At the bare minimum, Kali has acknowledged that there is a difference between "loving" other people for a purpose and just loving her neighbor.
One of those loves is manipulative, deceitful, and hollow (even in its good intentions), the other is simple, authentic, and dignifying.
Proverbs 29 acknowledges that manipulative neighborly kindness is like setting a trap. This metaphor expresses a power dynamic of hunter & unsuspecting prey. Perpetrator & victim.
And we must ask ourselves, does that approach mirror the free and releasing love God shows us?
It's not enough to pursue God's love for our neighbors. If it is to be found, it must be pursued in a way consistent with God's love.
So instead of flattering our neighbors in working for their salvation, may we be people who seek first to truly love our neighbors -- agenda free. And when our neighborhoods are filled with the love of God...who knows what the Spirit of God may do?!