I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore because I really don’t stick to them. Instead for the past couple of years I have taken a look back over the ending year and thanked God for all that He has done in my life. Then I ask Him to help me stay close to Him in the coming year. My heart’s desire is to keep my eyes on Him. I know if I do that, everything else will fall into its place. (Matthew 6:33)
This year however, I decided to set one New Year’s resolution for 2012—to learn to love more. When I thought about loving more I had my husband, kids, friends, church, and family in mind. I did not for a second think about loving those who would challenge my resolution to love; the sandpaper people in my life who rub me the wrong way with their lies, accusations, hating, slander, betrayal, and criticism.
The start of 2012 has been a challenging year already. I have been used, abused, betrayed, lied to, accused, hurt, and slandered. Loving has been challenged for sure. My resolution to love is being well-tried. Can we as Christians really love in the face of persecution and betrayal? Can we love when others are unloving to us? How?
I am quickly discovering that the only way to grow in love is to actually be put in, or allowed in situations where our commitment to love is tested and tried. It’s easy to love someone back when they are being nice, caring, understanding, respectful, and faithful. When people are rude, mean, selfish, self-centered, and unfaithful, however, it’s not so easy.
About a week ago I was reminded by a dear woman of God to pray for my enemies. I have to learn to love them in-spite of their ugliness. I searched out the Word of God and found, Luke 6:27-36. Take a few minutes and read these verses. I will share the verses that really spoke to me.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (verses 27-28)
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (verses 32-33)
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (verses 35-36)
That is a lot to take in. Love our enemies. Pray for them. Pray for those who hurt us. Be compassionate because our Father is compassionate.
Thank God for the Holy Spirit that lives in His children because it will have to be by His strength and empowering that I am going to walk this out when I have been so hurt. But His Word promises that we CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us. So here I go; not by my own might, nor by my own power, but by His Spirit. (Philippians 4:13, Zechariah 4:6)
Then the Spirit of our Lord reminded me that I have been forgiven much, so I must forgive others much. I need to make allowance for others faults. I need to be quick to forgive, but that I also need wisdom in my relationships; accepting the fruit of repentance as a means of reconciliation. At the same time, I need to understand that not all relationships will be immediately restored. I need to trust God in the midst of those losses.
In the month since making my resolution to love more, I have suffered great loss and experienced severe stress, persecution, and betrayal. I realize it is only by giving others the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness that Christ has given me, that I can truly walk in love with everyone—friend or foe. This is not of myself. It is truly done by the grace of God. Thank God for that!
In closing, I leave you with the verses that God always brings me back to. Colossians 3:12-14:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”