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Posts tagged ‘Loving others’

A Prayer for Loving Difficult People–Even Our Enemies

SOURCE:  Scotty Smith/The Gospel Coalition

 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36

     Dear heavenly Father, if I was ever in doubt about the power of your law to drive me to Jesus, all doubt is removed by this one Scripture.

     I cannot and I will not love like this, apart from union and communion with Jesus.

So as I pray through this passage today, I do so convinced of your love for me in Jesus and comforted to know that you have hidden my life in his.

     Father, I’m the ungrateful and wicked one to whom your kindness has been wondrously expressed in the gospel. Indeed, it was while I was your enemy that you reconciled me to yourself through the death of your beloved Son, Jesus (Rom. 5:10). Every time I try to excuse myself from loving difficult people, remind me of these truths. I’ve never been “choice,” just chosen by your sovereign grace.

     Who are my enemies, real or imagined? Forgive me for labeling some people “the enemy” simply out of my bruised pride, hurt feelings, and fragile self. Bring the power of the gospel to bear. Gentle me in those relationships. Simply avoiding them will do no good, and rehearsing their failures will only fertilize my loveless-ness.

     Father, for those who have been instruments of harm in my life, by their words or with their own hands—revenge belongs to you; a calling to love with wisdom is mine. Help me, Lord. Give me a bigger heart, thicker skin, and a longing for stories of redemption and reconciliation.

     So very Amen I pray in Jesus’ strong and compassionate name.

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Put It In the “HOLY SPACE”

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

 Holy Space in Community

The idea of “holy space” between people came to me when reading Bonhoeffer’s book — Life Together — a few years ago.

If I’m irritated by you, I don’t start by speaking directly to you about it.

First, I place that frustration in the “holy space” between us.

Christ fills that holy space and acts as the mediator between you and me. So I talk to Christ about how and why you bother me. He often says interesting things to me, hinting that perhaps a past resentment has come back to haunt me or that I’m irritated because you are just like me. I say “hinting” because the holy space is a gentle place where Christ says to me exactly the right thing. We talk it out, sometimes for a while.

I may or may not be led to speak to you about it. That will flow out of my conversation with Jesus in the holy space. In that place of safety, I have learned a little more about being open to whatever God would say to me. And mercifully, I have dumped my feelings on God, not on you. In this way, God is able to direct me in my efforts to love people. I learn that loving a certain person doesn’t look like what I thought it would look like.

Also – and this has been more difficult to learn – I’m learning to let the criticism you offer me flow into the holy space.

Otherwise, I immediately defend myself because I am, after all, probably right! Right?

The holy space  s l o w s  all that down. First, I offer it humbly to Jesus. Maybe I add how much this criticism hurt. Or I need to leave it in the holy space so I can simmer down and become objective.  So then the criticism sits there in God’s hands and I say to the Spirit:  “Please tell me what I need to know.”

My experience is that the Spirit doesn’t tell me everything I truly need to know but as much as I can stand to hear in this moment, as much as my character can bear. Sometimes we have to talk about this more. Other times, I get it, absorb it and act on it.

So all criticism – both content and tone – is filtered through God.

In this way, God builds community among us. The way we treat each other is filtered through Christ’s holy presence.

Prayer In The Face Of Frustration

SOURCE:  Taken from a post on Gospel.com

I’m going through a disappointing situation right now. Without getting into the details, a personal situation I was excited for has gone from hopeful to unsalvageable over the past week. To say I’m frustrated would be an understatement.

However, like many frustrating circumstances in life, it has provided daily (often hourly) opportunities to test my commitment to Jesus’ famous words in Matthew 22:37-40:

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

It’s easy to love God when life is full of blessings. Likewise, it’s easy to love your neighbor when everyone is being friendly. But what about when your expectations are dashed and your neighbors are decidedly unfriendly? What I’m re-realizing through this experience is that prayer is incredibly necessary. I’ve been praying for God to take my worry and replace it with His grace and His peace. And, unsurprisingly, whenever I can rise above my own issues enough to lay them before God, He has been faithful in answering that prayer.

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation. Have you taken time to pray about the situation? What would it take for you to exhibit God’s love to the people involved?

Do I Love Christ “FIRST?”

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

“The magic of first love is our ignorance that it will never end…”

That’s from the early 1800’s writer Benjamin Disraeli. His “love for life” story is interesting. At 35, kind of old for his generation, he married a very wealthy widow. Years later, Disraeli remarked that he indeed married for money. And his wife replied, “Ugh, but if you had to do it again, you would do it for love.”

If you had to marry all over again, would you? I know that first love often gets covered up with the daily grind – the pace, pain and pressure of modern day life – all of the things that subtlety take precedence over one another.

The Church at Ephesus, busy doing good works, had lost something precious – their “first love” for Christ. “I know your works…I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake…But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love that you had at first.” (Rev. 2:2-4 ESV)

Jesus firmly demanded that they come back to that love. “Remember…repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Rev 2:5 ESV)

In fact when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus basically said, “LOVE”. His answer was to love God with your whole heart…“You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37 ESV)

And even more, to love those around you…as much as you love yourself. “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (vs 39ESV)

Is there is distance in your “love” for God, or with others? What happened? Who moved? What came between you?

Find that love again. You can!! No, you NEED to. Why? Because “real love” connects us at the heart and changes everything…

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for Righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

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