Two neighbors. I’ll call them Neighbor #1, and Neighbor #2.
Neighbor #1 presented himself as a good, church-going, righteous man who was all about being neighborly. And so did his wife. Neighbor #2 presented himself as a regular guy who happened to be my neighbor. Neighbor #1, and his wife, talked about how good, and how righteous they were, and ‘their church this’, and ‘their church that’; and ‘the Lord this’, and ‘the Lord that’, while neighbor #2 helped me move a log.
Neighbor #2 showed his neighborliness by seeking to accommodate, as best he could, the expectations of the obstinate, narcissistic, and manipulative, neighbor #1. Neighbor #1 exploited, leveraged, and extorted the good nature of neighbor #2. As neighbor #2 began to see the true nature of neighbor #1, and hold his ground against it, neighbor #1, and his wife, began frequently mentioning ‘the advice of their attorney’. “Our church this, our church that, the Lord this, the Lord that, and yes, our attorney this, our attorney that”. Seems incongruous, but, maybe that’s just me!
Meanwhile, neighbor #2 was quietly improving, and trying to make right, a situation that, inadvertently, affected me. Neighbor #1 continued to manipulate, and attempt to control, everything about that same situation that he possibly could, to his own benefit, I might add. Neighbor #2 just shook his head at the nastiness of neighbor #1.
Neighbor #1, the ‘righteous’ man, came to me to get me on his side of the supposed ‘misunderstanding’. He lied to me with the very first words out of his mouth, and continued lying as he kept talking. I listened patiently, and as he continued to paint himself in a most favorable but, actually, quite deceitful, light, it reminded me of something I remembered reading somewhere in the Bible.
“Your righteousness is like filthy rags.”
When I finally chose to speak I told him exactly who he is, what he is, what I think of him, and why I will have nothing to do with him in the future.
Then I threw him off my land, and told him to never come back.
He is not an honest man, and I do not intend to entertain his disingenuousness throughout the future.
I take to heart many of those valuable historical parables so many of us were raised with, and this one in particular.
“Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
No matter how many times they might mention God, or their church.
If he were in trouble, or in need, yes, I would offer him assistance.
He is a fellow traveler on this planet, and our commission as humans is to love one another.
But sometimes love requires that a situation be dealt with directly, that one not protect another’s fraudulent position. Sometimes love requires taking the more difficult stand.
And yes, sometimes love requires the honesty of anger.