Like most adults, I like to think of myself as mature and selfless, ready and able to lay aside my plans as needed when the situation and circumstances require. To a certain extent that is true: in an emergency I can drop whatever I am doing and rush to help. But what about less dire moments? Am I willing to change my schedule for people that I feel less than loving towards… especially if it’s for someone I’d really rather not have to accomodate?
Loving Your Enemies
Loving the people I like is easy. Jesus had something to say about our reward in doing that very thing in Matthew 5:44-46.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”
Okay… love my enemies… gulp. But what if the person is not exactly my enemy – just really irritating or demanding? Defining who my enemies are may be as surprising as finding out who Jesus was talking about when He showed us who our are neighbors are in the story of The Good Samaritan.
My own version of the above verse might look like this:
“But I say to you,” love the interrupting and distracting ones, the loud neighbors, the obnoxious co-worker, the critical boss, the rebellious teenager, and even the know-it-alls. Pray for those who criticize, demean, and look down on you, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
MY WILL OR HIS?
I find that loving others well, the way Jesus wants me to, involves an active choice on my part. It requires that I recognize the reaction of irritation in my heart for what it is, an ungodly response of my flesh to something (or someone!) that I would prefer not to be happening at that time or place.
It requires me to acknowledge that whether I like it or not, God has allowed the circumstance and that I can either exert my will to rid myself of an unpleasant situation or person, or I can humbly lay my heart at the feet of Jesus.
When my default reaction of justifying myself becomes less about covering up my sin and more about taking my revealed sin to the cross, something beautiful occurs. Jesus becomes the One I Run To… my Holy Refuge from the sin that He in His wisdom and love allowed to illuminate the places in my heart that need His cleansing and forgiveness.
I’m no longer in the throes of a clamoring household of children. My youngest child, and the only one of seven children still at home, is a a delightfully mature 17 year-old. Although most of the time our household runs along fairly smoothly, I’ve noticed that when the rare disruption does
occur that it can make me feel resentful and anxious.
The Holy Spirit has convicted me of selfishness in this area and has managed to bring some needed changes. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to travel and spend an extended visit with some of my grandchildren.
Jumping into the noise and lively interactions of six homeschooled children is not for the fainthearted! Weeks of running this busy household while their parents are away has shown me that I still very much need the grace and mercy of Jesus for my sometimes less than loving reactions.
My heart is hungry for more of Jesus and less of myself. But my sinful nature continues to covet having things done my way on my schedule. Left to my own shortsighted way I’d end up a mess… fragile, fearful, and sadly… alone.
Thankfully God has provided a way of escape from the conflict between my sinful heart and His will for me. That way is a person and His name is Jesus. And He also provided an example for me to follow.
“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
WHICH SHALL IT BE?
Shall I continue clutching my sin-soaked independence versus falling on my face in worshipful obedience with the Lover of My Soul? I pray not.
As I daily fall more in love with Jesus, my heart’s desire is that my response to Him in times of a conflict between His will or mine may be an ever more resounding, “yes” to Him.
Stay Connected With Wendy