I feel like I need to take a deep breath and pray a bit before I write this…
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
–Colossians 3:12-13 (NIV)
Can I just start by saying that I feel like I’ve had an abundance of experience with stupid people lately? And I don’t handle it well. I’m usually impatient, unkind, condescending, and sometimes downright rude. It’s hard not to be!
I mean, when it takes a doctor’s secretary a month to get your appointment set, and when you have to give her your phone number again each of the dozen times you call her, and wait as she seems to spend five seconds writing down each digit… It’s hard not to get just a little impatient.
I lay in bed at night and thank God for his perfect, unconditional love, acknowledging that even my husband and I cannot love each other in the same way He loves both of us. The next morning, I get up, and I raise my voice at the customer service agent at Tricare. (Don’t get me started on Tricare!)
Human nature says, “I’m number one!” Self is the most important. And other peoples’ worth is judged by many factors: intelligence, humor, whether they’ve done you harm.
But human nature is sinful, and God doesn’t appreciate the judgments we pass on his creation.
Instead, He says that we should be motivated by his love and his sacrifice to pour that love on others.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
–1 John 4:10-11 (NIV)
- Compassion, a deep sympathy for another’s suffering.
- Kindness, being warm-hearted and considerate.
- Humility, accepting ourselves as we really are before God.
- Gentleness, being amiable and tender.
- Patience, waiting or enduring good-naturedly and without complaint
- Forgiveness, to excuse or pardon, to renounce anger and resentment.
These are all just aspects of one love, a love that we are to give to others. It’s not something that is dependant on whether they love us first. It’s something that is dependant on the fact that God already loved us first. Now we love others.
What if they don’t deserve it?
Sorry to tell you, but they don’t deserve it. But God says their worth isn’t judged by the factors we like to use. They’re worth something because they are God’s creation, too, and he loves them.
Tricare will probably thank me for taking this lesson to heart.
Life by the Spirit
“I sure can’t just make myself more loving!”
We aren’t really capable of unconditional love, but God is. And as Christians, we have his Holy Spirit within us. The only way we can really accomplish God’s will is by allowing the Spirit to work in and through us. It’s a process of being aware, being in constant prayer, and being open to the Spirit’s leading. We won’t get it right all the time, but the more we work at it, trusting Him to work in us, the more we’ll start seeing the fruits of the Spirit. And, hey, those look pretty similar to the loving qualities we’re supposed to show others… 🙂
“…Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. …The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
–Galatians 5:16-17, 22-26 (NIV)
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