God commands it. We do our best at it. Some days loving others is easy. And yet, on other days, I fail miserably at it. Especially when hurt and misunderstanding enter the scene. Ever been there?
Last week I had allowed someone’s actions to affect me to the point of anger, which grew into bitterness, which turned into vengeance. I thought and talked and acted like someone who wasn’t me, like someone who’s blog name didn’t contain the words “loving others.”
Friday morning, it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to conquer these feelings and emotions on my own. As I was driving down the road to Bible class, I asked God to remove from me these ugly emotions, as I told Him I was sorry for allowing them to take root in the first place. I know better.
And, wouldn’t you know, as we began our Bible class, the leader asked us to open our Bibles to John 13:34-35.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
With tears filling my eyes, I could barely read the words. I knew God was speaking straight to me.
Love people because you love God.
Our leader went on to share the definition of divine love–
An act of will that lays aside itself and extends itself for the building up of another.
The anger I had toward this person began to dissolve, and was replaced with compassion, and unbelievably, love. Right then I saw this person in a different way… as one who needed God’s love, not my wrath. (What if we looked at every single person in this way… as one who needed God’s love??) The vengeance lifted, and the bitterness disappeared. It doesn’t even make sense as I write this, but I came to the understanding I could set my feelings aside, and extend forgiveness to build up this person.
How this one lives is between he/she and God. Actually, how we live and love matters, and some day we’ll each be accountable to God for how we did so on this earth. I don’t have to keep a record of anyone else’s wrongs. Mine are more than I can handle. Even though my hurt and anger was unknown to the other, I can choose to let go of it all, and go on living a free-from-bitterness life.
I can love people because I love God.
I can love people because God loves people.
I can love people because God loves me.
However, this doesn’t mean we allow people to walk all over us. Goodness, no. We can love people, even if we choose to love from a distance. We can love as we maintain healthy boundaries. And, sometimes that, in itself, is loving others.
So, if we ever find ourselves failing to love people–or someone in particular–may you and I return to the above definition of divine love. We can choose to allow it to be our guide by which to live and love.
Linking up this post with Lori, Crystal, Kelly, & Holly.
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This post is particularly relevant to me as our church searches for a new pastor, and the people I love and worship with are having to work together in more significant (and sometimes stressful) ways. I keep telling myself how good this is for us as a body, and your words have underscored my commitment to get this thing right.
Julie- great reminder today! I have let some negative feelings toward another cloud my heart. I’m going to more earnestly pray for these feelings to change.
Your #MomentsofHope neighbor,
Julie, thank you for this post. I needed this reminder as hurt can sometimes cloud my heart. Grateful this post helped blow those clouds away as I sat reading John 13. Blessings!
Thanks, Julie, we can never hear this often enough. It is so easy to slip into old ways when our emotions are stepped on.
I so love this post! Even though God commands it, sometimes it’s hard to love people, especially the difficult ones.
Julie, this is so fine and a great reminder of our call in this world. Any anger, bitterness, jealousy and all of those are not worth it for we lose our peace in the Lord. I have felt those more than I care to admit, but I want Jesus to reign so I love because He first loved me.
Thank you. ‘Tis been awhile since I came to visit here. Glad I did!
He sure gets bossy at times, doesn’t He!
Julie, anytime we have a reminder of the true heart of living as a follower of Christ, it is powerful. How our churches and communities and families need this message. Love, love this! Crystal
God is so creative in how He nearly slaps us with truth! Ouch! I think that’s what we often need, though, to snap us out of the depths of the place we have fallen. I love this, Julie! We all have people who are hard to love. Thanks for the hope and encouragement! And thank you for being such an important part of #MomentsofHope!