Do you love others from a pure heart or only when it’s convenient for you?
I know you love Jesus. I know you are Spirit-filled. I know you trust in the Word of God. However, there are times in our lives when we’d rather let go than love.
A Dinner Dilemma
I sat at the table, dressed in an elegant black and white dress. The sound of soft jazz music filled the air.
Crystal clear glasses glistened in the light, as waiters served delectable fare. I was about to graduate college
and my parents surprised me with a gourmet dinner. The relaxed ambiance of the restaurant was a welcome change to the busyness of college life. My hard work had paid off.
As I conversed with my family, my heart was full of gratitude. The Lord allowed me to succeed. He covered my life and ordered my path. Yet, in the midst of the celebration, something was missing. Glancing across the table was an empty chair. The one my older brother was supposed to fill.
He was invited to the dinner. He was welcome at the graduation ceremony, but he never showed up. The questions stirred in my mind, an answer I could not find. I called. He didn’t respond. The hours became days. Days became weeks. Weeks became years.
How could I love someone so much, yet not receive love in return?
Make the God Choice
When you’d rather let go, that is when you must choose to love.
Now, if you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, please use common sense. The Lord doesn’t condemn us for making necessary changes when our lives are in danger. However, sometimes we give up too easily on people when the Lord is calling us to love them anyhow.
Is your co-worker getting on your last nerve? Is your son or daughter going in the wrong direction? Are you frustrated over family drama? Are you seeking a change in your community? When the going gets tough, we must follow Jesus’ example of loving others. The Bible says “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32). The greatest test of our love is when we can be kind and compassionate to people who treat us unfairly.
The Lord wants us to show the same mercy to others that He shows us, even when it hurts. The Bible says:
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)
We can’t get amnesia and forget that we aren’t deserving of God’s love. In spite of our shortcomings, Jesus chooses to love us and sacrificed His life for us.
Choosing to love when you’d rather let go isn’t easy. However, here’s what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) through experience and life situations:
1) Pray the Word of God. When things aren’t going as planned, it’s easy to speak what we think and feel. Although feelings are natural, we cannot allow them to control us. Meditating on the Word of God is crucial in helping us gain a godly perspective.
Find scriptures in the Bible that speak health and healing to your unique situation. When you pray, pray the Word of God back to Him! We can’t manipulate God into answering our prayers the way we want, but we can know that He is listening. He will respond according to His will. (Jeremiah 1:12, Psalm 107:19-21)
2) Keep on Believing. Keep saying what God says. Keep speaking life. Imagine a better future, even though it seems that nothing is happening. When your flesh is having a field day, choose to walk in the Spirit instead.
3) Trust God’s Timing. When is this situation going to change? How long do I have to wait? Why is God taking so long? Maybe you’ve never had these thoughts before, but you’re thinking something! Let’s be real, all of our worrying and emotional meltdowns accomplish nothing. God is going to do what He wants in His timing, not ours. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care, it just means He’s God! So while you’re waiting, trust that God has heard your prayers and will answer. (Isaiah 55:8-9, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
4. Expect God to Change You. As much as we hate to admit it, the only person we can change is ourselves. When challenges come, we often learn more about our character than the people we are trying to change. Are you patient? Are you easily irritated? Do you avoid confrontation? Can you speak the truth in love? I love when David says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties…” (Psalm 139:23-24). The Lord will show you what’s in your heart and what you need His help to change.
Loving others from a pure heart is a choice and a challenge. When we love in spite of our feelings, we model the love of Christ. We show that we truly are children of God.
How are you choosing to love?