Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s a straightforward commandment.
But could we just be honest and face facts? We’re not Jesus, and it’s difficult to love everyone. Impossible even. Unless you have help, of course.
Thoughts of justice and mercy
Some people just irritate me, so I need a lot of help. Lack of a work ethic or a conflicting attitude rub me the wrong way sending any semblance of patience out the window.
Others, those who have wounded me, rouse various vindictive scenarios until, feeling ashamed of my lack of forgiveness, I beg for help to heal so that I might become more loving. I never want to hurt anyone so entertaining such thoughts is a waste of time; but there are days when a certain meanness in me wishes to see justice done sooner than later. Of course, then I recall my own sins and how we all have to answer for our choices. Yikes! So it’s back to pleading for forgiveness for mean thoughts.
I know that justice will be done when God judges all people. Thinking of this evokes thoughts of mercy. We all require forgiveness and need mercy. I know this. Sometimes I just forget.
Never ending struggles
So the struggle continues—how to forgive and forget, how to accept others without judging or condemning, how to give it all to Jesus and let Him deal with it all. I continue to ask for forgiveness and start each day with intentions of living through it without messing up.
As you well know, we all keep messing up.
Humans continue to make mistakes because we aren’t God. We can’t love others without God’s help either.
God asks me to love the people who irritate me and who hurt me. To love means to be kind. I can be kind on the outside and unkind on the inside. That’s still being unkind in God’s eyes. Yet, I also believe, the person can tell the difference between genuine love and kindness and superficial. I mean, I can tell when someone is being superficial so it goes both ways. If I want to treat others as Jesus would treat them, then my failures weigh heavy on my conscious and heart.
What can I do? I’m constantly reacting in a way I don’t want.
We may not like what a person does, but we are still asked to love the person. Jesus loves imperfect us.
Seek help from Jesus in struggle
I recall Corrie Ten Boom, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp for hiding and helping Jews, sharing about an encounter with a former prison guard. She was at one of her speaking engagements when she saw him approaching. She prayed knowing she couldn’t forgive this man on her own. She couldn’t even shake his hand without God’s help. As their hands joined, she felt power and the genuine warmth of forgiveness for this guard jolt through her. Corrie had greater hurts to forgive, and she forgave. Her testimony encourages me.
We can’t act like Jesus if He doesn’t help us. We need strong doses of Holy Spirit power. Corrie’s story reminds me of this so I persevere.
I’m a work in progress. We all are.
When I feel the embers of anger smoldering, more and more I hear that quiet voice whispering, “Be kind. Love as Jesus loves.”
Someday, forgiveness will flow automatically. Until then, I’ll continue to practice and pray, “Lord, change my heart.”
Do you struggle sometimes to love others?