Choose Love Every time

Have you ever been through a test and wonder if you failed or passed it?  Have you ever been pushed to the limit and wonder how to let it go so you can move on?   Have you ever been exasperated and feel the need to scream just to vent?  Well, I have been there and in fact, I am being tested in this area again.   Sometimes we must keep taking a test repeatedly because either we didn’t successfully pass it the first time, or an issue keeps arising that tests your strength in certain areas, so you can be refined.

 

There is an answer to passing this test.  The answer is to love no matter what the situation is or whomever is causing friction in your life.  However, this must be a conscious and deliberate choice.  Love should always be a continuous action regardless.  It should not be biased or applied to only family and close friends.  We are commanded to love everyone and treat them as we would like to be treated.

 

I get it.  It is hard.  It can be so frustrating to love someone who verbally attacks you when you offer to help, only to refuse that help because they are determined to stay in their current circumstances.  It is unbearable to be around someone who is a constant negative Nellie who after asking for advice, refuses to take it because it is not what they wanted to hear.  It is hard to love when someone loves to boast and sing God’s praises when things are going well, but as soon as the tide turns they become unwilling to submit to God, trust in Him, or give Him the respect He is owed.  However, despite all of this we see in Luke 6:27-31, 35 and Matthew 5:43-48, that Jesus commands us to live out love regardless.

 

Luke 6:27-31  “But to you who are listening I say:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn to them the other also.  If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

 

Luke 6:35  “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”

 

Matthew 5:43-48  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

 

We are offered guidance and wise wisdom in Romans 12:20-21 as we learn how to treat those who are our enemies or those who follow a different belief system.

 

Romans 12:20-21  “On the contrary:  If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

Doing all of this can be hard to wrap your mind around.  It seems like we are rewarding those who hurt us, slander our name, or just plain do not like us, but we are not rewarding anyone.  We are being obedient to God’s command not to the world point of view.  We are asked to stand out and be the light Jesus wants us to be.  We cannot follow His example if we refuse to walk in His footsteps.

 

Instead we keep it all bottled up inside and let the hatred or anger fester.  It grows too quickly and if not tended to, can start to damage our viewpoint on our own life or life in general.  Hatred should never have a place in our lives.  It is futile, and it damages us the most, not the people who hate us or persecute us for offering to help or share our beliefs.  In Proverbs 10:12 we are fed much wisdom regarding hate and its remedy.

 

Proverbs 10:12  “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.” 

 

Hate breeds more hate.  We become discontent, we tend to argue more, we refuse to listen as a result and become more distant to others.  We pigeon-hole ourselves into a corner when we do this.  We become the very thing we previously tried to get others to let go of.

 

When we refuse to give in to hatred or anger we are setting a new standard.  Jesus never expressed hate and yet He was able to get His point across.  Why?  He used a gentle word and showed love and compassion to all of us whether in times of adversity or during our smallest to greatest trials.  He reached out in love and heard our pleas for help.  He stood (and still does) by us during the storm and long after it had passed.  His love was pure and unconditional.  It remained; thus, allowing us to gain strength by the power of that love.

 

Hold on to love and let everything else drop away.  Hear the cries of those calling out during their hardest hours, be patient and willing to listen without judgment.  Offer advice when needed knowing fully that it may not be received.  Be encouraging, yet do not be afraid to warn when another Christian brother or sister is backsliding.

 

Backsliding begins when a believer stops praying or reading The Word, stops being faithful/obedient to God, and decides to live in their sinful nature and go their own way instead.  They become discouraged and look to the world for answers instead of taking it all to God and submitting to His will.  Matthew 26:41 warns us how vital it is that we pray continuously to God and where failing to do so can lead us and Colossians 4:2 stresses the power of prayer.

 

Matthew 26:41  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

 

Colossians 4:2  “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

 

Mankind does turn away from God and we become determined to resolve our own problems with human wisdom, not God’s wisdom.  Isaiah 59:12-13 and Jeremiah 2:19 state the consequences when we backslide and forgo God.

 

Isaiah 59:12-13  “For our offences are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us.  Our offences are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities:  rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.”

 

Jeremiah 2:19  “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you.  Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me, declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”

 

God can send us a storm to warn us of our straying and that we need to get back on track.  Jonah was swallowed by a whale, Israel suffered a plague and David lost a child when he slept with Bathsheba.  All of these are prime examples of how a storm can quickly rise if we choose to be disobedient.  What we need to keep in mind is to be thankful all the time.  When things are prosperous we become comfortable and overconfident; thus, tending to stray from God and go our own way.  However, we call on Him whenever we experience adversity.  God should be acknowledged all the time, do not dishonor Him or downplay His glory by coming to Him only during your roughest patches.  The good news is that God allows us the opportunity to repent when we backslide and promises to restore us if we do as He promises us in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Hosea 14:4.

 

2 Chronicles7:14  “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

 

Hosea 14:4  “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely:  for mine anger is turned away from him.” 

 

Sometimes the problem is not backsliding, but rather the person suffering through trials are not truly Christians.  They never repented or were never transformed by the Word.  They may lead themselves to believe they are, but if there is no change or any fruit of their works, then they may have never been saved.  In 1 John 1:9 we see how important it is to confess our sins and come to Him; whereas 1 John 3:8-9 shows us that our refusal to repent or to continue in our sin is not a characteristic trait of a true Christian.  A Christian who accepts God is born again and is affected by his sin – convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent and make it right with God.

 

1 John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

 

1 John 3:8-9 “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No on born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”

 

What I have learned from all of this is that we are to help one another and meet the needs of those in trouble. To try to warn Christians who have strayed, and then get them back on the right path once again.  We are to warn gently but firmly and not to enable them if they refuse to accept the wisdom offered.  Our job is to warn despite the risk of possibly losing a friendship or creating an irreparable distance with a loved one.  Their responsibility is to decide if they want to accept the advice given or refuse to change their behavior.  It is the foundation built on love that runs through all of this.  We want to treat every one the way we expect to be treated, but we need to be obedient to God and honest to those we are trying to help.  Never stop loving them and always keep them in prayer for the chance that their allotted time to come to Him happens and is not turned down when offered.  Salvation is a gift – a gift that through God’s grace we are offered.  We did not earn it, nor do we deserve it, yet there it is ready for us to accept.  Please let Him into your hearts today, submit fully to Him and place all your trust in Him.  Give Him your burdens, then let them go.  Live as He wanted us to live.  Be patient, show compassion, be hospitable, merciful and forgiving.  Love above all of this.  Together we can work it out, we can bear with one another and we can all reap the joy of having an Almighty God in our lives.  God bless!

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