Monday, September 17, 2012

Greater love.....

We all know them.  We have all experienced this.  You know people like this.  People who seem to think they have the job of convincing you and everyone else how terrible you are.  People who twist your words and create a character of "you" that is off base.  People who are perhaps jealous or envious of your accomplishments and will stop at nothing to make you feel sad or miserable.  It hurts, it's annoying, and it is exhausting.  

I think the worst part about all of this is that, most times, these people are people you just can't leave behind.  They could be family, co-workers, friends you see ALL of the time, etc.  It would be easy to leave the toxicity for the birds and march on our happy way.  Through prayer and study, however, I have found that God is leading in a direction that requires absolute humility.  

I am sure I am the only human in the world like this, but for me, humility is HARD.  Especially when you have these people on your heels, waiting for failure.  Failure that would launch them into happy dances.   

This type of "thing" is not going away, so with the help of some recent prayer, study, and thought, I have come to some hard, but peaceful solutions to dealing with individuals who want to see you hurt.  It comes down to LOVE.  I really want to know what GOD calls me (and you) to do when I (we) feel undeserving of an attack.

First, we must understand LOVE. The love that we see, hear and experience here on Earth is a love that scowls at anyone who disagrees.  Earthly love demands us to love, accept, support, and subscribe to anything a person thinks is important.  We are called to LOVE everything, as long as it feels good.  This worldly love calls us to smile and nod at anything anyone says is good no matter the cost.  This love is giddy and blind.  It creates happy thoughts and rainbows everywhere you look.  Love, here on earth, makes a rainy day sunny.  Tune into the radio, go see a movie, turn on a sitcom, watch a commercial, drive past a jewelry store, you name it, you will see it.  Don't get me wrong here!!!  I love love.  I am in love.  I am head over heals for my handsome husband.  I have some really close friends who are just the coolest people God has gifted me with.  I love them, and they love me, and the blessing of love feels great!    

The Bible teaches two sides of love.  One side of love accepts and forgives people just as they are.  The other acknowledges truth and requires righteous behavior.

THIS...this is hard.  The other side of the love God sent his son to help us understand, biblical love, is something I may never understand this side of heaven.  Biblical love demands of us our full attention.  The LOVE of Jesus is something totally confusing.  Biblical love describes a man, a savior, Jesus who loved us so much, he DIED for us.  He was born for one purpose, to die for men who hated Him.  In light of this love, we have certain responsibilities.  This love requires change in us.  This love enters our hearts and demands requirements for behaviors, put limits on our actions, and muzzles on our mouths.  This LOVE has limits as to what HE will put up with.  This love always cares, but does not always accept.  This love demands these changes because WE are changed.  We shouldn't be able to behave "any ol' way" when this love enters in.   

So, if you're like me, you are confused.  Can we stay away from people that hurt for sport, or do we have to deal with them?!?!?!  For me, this is the worst!!  I mean, we have this savior who died for pitiful me and pitiful you (I mean that with all the "love").  A savior who died for men and women who hated Him.  A savior who loves men and women today who hurt Him and hurt others on purpose.  We are called to model our lives after Christ.  What does it all mean??? 

Thankfully (I am literally praising Jesus for this truth), it has been laid out for us if we are willing to search for the answers.  I am, because confusion is confusing....:)  

1.  His love and righteousness go together.  The Psalmist has said: "Mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other." (Psalm 85:10).  God calls us to be like His son, but at the same time, He wants us to require righteous behavior from one another in our relationships.

2.  Maturity in a personal walk with Christ plays a HUGE part.  A mature person sees when they are in the wrong and changes their behavior (1 Corinthians 11:31).  However, everyone we encounter may not be mature in Christ or even have any clue as to what God says about behavior.  When we are confronted with this, we must chose to turn the other cheek and pray for that person to find the Jesus of the Bible, not the God of their personal agenda.  This is where boundaries with that person become especially important.  During the time of prayer (take note that this is not prayer for fire and brimstone to rain down on their pretty little heads), a healthy separation may be what God calls of you.    

3.  The Bible makes it clear that if we do not see what we are doing wrong, it is up to other people to tell us.  Check out Galatians 6:1.  This is not your opportunity to shout to the world what the person who hurt you has done.  Or like the people of 2012, it is not your God given right to create a back-biting spiteful Facebook status (see point # 2).  This correction must be done in COMPLETE humility and compassion for your brother or sister in Christ.    

Matthew 18 15-17:  If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But, if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  If they still refuse to listen, tell the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 


4.  If you have confronted a person who makes it their life goal to make you miserable, prayed for them, and corrected them in LOVE and RESPECT and HONESTY and HUMILITY, and they still won't change their behaviors towards you, it may be time for more severe boundaries. 1 Corinthians 5:11 is rough, but states perfectly the idea that if a brother or sister in Christ won't "stop", then YOU should stop associating yourself with them.  Please check it out, but, for now, I will spoil the ending: "Do not even EAT with these people."  It is not Godly to allow evil to go on when someone is in denial of their sins.       

5.  I think this should be number 1, but I will include it and humbly say that it may be the most important step.  Well, I should say that it is the most important one for me!  Influence is derived from what a person spends the most time doing.  If a person is practicing evil, practicing deceit, focusing on evil, and focusing on revenge, they WILL NOT SEE what GOD has for them.  When someone hurts you, it is most important to spend time in prayer, spend time in prayer FOR the person (again, prayer pleasing to God), and self reflective prayer.  The last type of prayer demands you (believer in Christ) to look within at what offense you have committed.  Being able to SAY SORRY and MEAN IT to someone who will gloat in your apology, feels as humiliating as hanging on a cross in plain view of mockers.

The LOVE of Jesus is described perfectly in one of my favorite verses.  This verse is from John 15:13, and says, "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends."