This is from a chapter on LOVE:
I mean, everyone knows that Christians love everyone! Oh, wait – does everyone know that? Or does everyone think that Christians judge everyone? They shouldn’t think that, since love is all Jesus preached while he was healing and ministering. Paul even flat out told us to stop passing judgment on one another and not to put up a stumbling block in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:13) But, unfortunately, that’s exactly what we do instead of loving.
But let’s be real, you and I, shall we? People are irritating. They do annoying things. They take forever in the line at the bank or in their car driving in front of you while they’re talking on their cell phone. They smack their lips when they eat right next to you. They talk loudly in the library. They take your parking space. They don’t show up at your New Year’s Eve party when they said they would, and you bought four tons of food that no one’s going to eat. They do hostile or rotten things. They slash tires or key cars, they tailgate you with their brights on, they egg your mailbox or T.P. your house.
And some … well, they do horrible things. They kidnap children, they abuse their pets, they murder their own families. People are hard to love.
Here’s an exercise for you. Take a notebook and pen and list all of the people that you do love. Then, being very honest with yourself and with God (who already knows anyhow) write a second list of all of the people that you don’t love. You might even be astonished to find that there are even more people on the second list. Or at least, quite a few. Which is quite a few more than there should be, right?
The Bible is very clear on this. We are to love everyone. Not just accept them, not just tolerate them, not just acknowledge them. We are to love them. Our friends, our family, people we have just met, people we have known our entire lives, people that annoy us, people that we think are horrible, people that are our enemies. Yes, our enemies. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27,35) People we try to avoid. People who grate on our nerves the moment we hear just the sound of their voices. We are to love them. It’s what we are called to do.
Love everyone as a fellow child of God. It’s what you are, and it’s what they are. Everyone you see is a child of God. Of course, we are not omnipotent or omniscient, but if we attempt to look at people from the point of view of their Heavenly Father – see them as beautiful created beings – it makes loving them so much easier. And when we recognize our own sins and downfalls, it makes it even easier to accept others for who they are, no matter how irritating we might find them.
One trick in particular that I try to use when I find myself having a difficult time loving someone is to ask myself why I’m feeling this way toward them. If it is because they have done something to me that is offensive, I need to look past the offense and forgive them. If it is because they are annoying, I need to discern what I find annoying and realize how meaningless that annoying thing really is. I should not let it get in the way of loving that person the way God intended for them to be loved. If the reason is something deeper and more painful, then, as in all things, I need God’s help and guidance to learn to love through the pain. Loving someone doesn’t mean they have to become your best friend. It doesn’t mean you have to spend a tremendous amount of time together. It means you have to be open to working in their lives however God wants you to work there.
Love is the one thing Jesus was adamant that we do. If nothing else, as true Christians, it should be the one thing we get right.