"Lord, make me a woman who loves."
This has been an ongoing prayer. I have always known that I am to love others, but I have been absolutely convicted for some time that I need to truly LOVE people - that this is a glaring sin in my life, and the Lord keeps bringing it right in front of me. I don't want to say, or even think, "...of course I love everyone, but there are some people that I just don't like," or any of that. I think that is a cop-out. I acknowledge that in practical terms there will be some people that I have more in common with, have mutual friends with, etc. And, I will probably spend more time in those peoples' company. I will even admit that there are some people who are difficult to be around - for various reasons. Is it okay to not hang around them? Sometimes, I think. If I am not able to respond to them in a Christ-like and loving manner, then maybe I should remove myself from the opportunity to sin. Does that give me a pass, though? NO. The fact that I cannot respond to someone in a loving manner is not a reflection on THEM - it is a reflection on ME. It is MY sin.
In every situation, I try to look at my role. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes I can just note that I need repent and ask God to give me the supernatural ability to be more patient and loving. Often, I can see where I was quick to judge and criticize (even if I don't say it out loud).
Sometimes, though, it is difficult. When I feel like someone has wronged me - especially when dealing with someone who is being passive-aggressive, where you know they are digging at you, but it is being done so subtly that you really can't call them on it. That is the sort of thing that can feel like grit in your soul. But what is my role in this? Even if I did nothing to provoke it, I still have a role - my role is my response. Do I get angry, and then go on a vent against them? Do I turn it over (and over and over) in my head, sucking up my day with my grievances? Do I pray for God to "fix" them?
Or do I turn to my Savior, and beg Him to take this anger from me, and to replace it with love and compassion.
Honestly? Sometimes the former, sometimes the latter. But I want it to be the latter. I want my actions and my thoughts to be glorifying to God. You know what I really want? I want for it to not even be an issue - to be so filled with love for my brothers and sisters that I don't even see their wrongs. I want their "sandpaper" to rub me smooth.
I recognize that I am also sandpaper for others, but I am going to leave that for another post, on another day!
I am blessed to have a "slightly" older woman who holds me accountable. We are close in chronological age, but she is years ahead of me in her walk with the Lord. Last week during a prayer meeting she cried out to God to give her a heart to love people the way she should, the way He does. This has been my own prayer, and when I heard it spoken out loud it became like a searing flash across my heart. Oh Lord, how critical I am. How easily offended I can be. How impatient, and unloving. Lord, let me see others as you see them. As you have loved and forgiven me, let me love them. Give me a compassionate heart, instead of a critical one. Lord, if I see a brother or sister in sin, let me be grieved over it. Let me take it to You, let me intercede for them. Let me not tell others about it, or complain about it. God, if you lead me to confront them, let it be done in humility, in love, not in self-righteousness.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
If anyone says, "I love God" and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:7-12, 20-21 ESV