October 24, 2011

­­But I
say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you
may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil
and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if
you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax
collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters what
more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be
perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:44-48 NRSV

 

October 24, 2011

If we all read this correctly, God is telling us to love the unlovable? Love those who bug the poop out of us? If I were to ask you to write down the names of those whom you don’t love, I bet you can come up with a list.
I know I could. Oh, I don’t ever want any of you to think that I am Miss holier than thou. I am not. I am a sinner just like the rest of you. Now before I go on I do want to state for the record, as a general rule I love pretty much everyone. I can love someone because I choose to love them, just as God says. I can love perfect strangers and pray for them. I can love strangers by smiling at them or helping them. What I find a hard time loving are those people in my life that are unlovable.

What or who do I consider unlovable? Anyone who is: angry, selfish, condescending, mean-spirited, self- righteous, abrasive, judgmental and unloving. They can be one or all, and only one character flaw on the list
renders them unlovable in my book. Therefore, any interaction I have with them is unpleasant and I try to avoid it at all costs. Of course, that does not always work. It always seems as if the unlovable have an uncanny way of popping up into my life. This is when God reminds me that the purpose of unlovable
people in our lives is not hating them or trying to avoid them, but to love them.

Now when I say love I do not mean that you have to be their friend, give in to their whims and succumb to their threats. The verse here says you can love your enemies, not make them your friends. You can love them
and still keep them separated from you. To love them is a choice. You can say to God, I will choose to love them and pray for them and not hold their sins against them. You can do all this and guard yourself from their sinful actions. That is where wisdom comes in. There are people in our lives, and sometimes
they can be even family members, who can be unlovable. The choice to have them as a friend is no longer ours. We can love them, pray for them, never wish them harm and call them, be lovable to them, and give them grace and a lot of space. Easier said than done, I know. The trick to this is to love them before you
encounter them again. What normally happens is this: We know of a time when we have to see that family member and the past disputes that have not been forgiven resurface. We then encounter them guarded and waiting for the attack. This kind of tension can be felt in both of you. Then anything, no matter how
trivial, will spark a dispute. Walls go up and communication comes to a halt. I know all about this, I make this mistake over and over. Then I come home and replay the event in my mind a hundred times trying to do it better.

You do the same. Well, how about if we try to do here just what Jesus calls us to do? How less stress would be in your life if you just gave your list of personal enemies to God and asked Him to forgive the both of
you for the way you treated each other. Then pray for them. Ask God to be with them today. When you pray for someone long enough you learn to love them. This is what God intends. This is how His children should behave. This is how the unsaved world learns about His love for us. This is why He tells us to love others and by others He does mean even the unlovable. Now why should we do that?

Because that is just how God loved us!

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