Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Lord, Love My enemies through Me"

I have a temper.

And I just realized this last night. 

After writing that I have been sitting here staring at my screen at a loss for words.  God has really been working in my heart lately to show me things that I need to change in order to grow closer to him. I feel like this has been something I've been struggling with for a long time. We all know about Twanda but yet here I am, still fighting this.

My Pastor preached a sermon on 1-29-12 called "Lord, Love My enemies through Me" I highly recommend clicking on the link and listening to the sermon. 

I'm going to copy some of his sermon text into this blog.

Think of the impact on your obedient faith and commitment to love others that is felt when you intersect with an angry spouse, a rebellious child, a difficult neighbor, an uncaring family member or an obnoxious co-worker. You may not be beaten, bloodied or bound, but your independent preoccupation with your life and your self infatuation lead you to incredible frustration as you fight and defend yourself from these various assaults on your perceived freedom. It is significant that in most cases when faced with angry or unkind opposition, the best we can do is not react and distance ourselves from the threat. The gospel of God releases us and transforms us to not waste our lives as victims of those who oppose or hurt us.
That pretty much brought me to my knees. 

I was talking to my little brother Tyler last week and he said something in love that was so profound. He said to me "you like people, but you don't always feel up to the task of loving them". So very true. I like people, I like talking to people, but if you're rude, or I think you're annoying, or self absorbed and I'm tired of hearing all about you and your drama all the time, I really want nothing to do with you.  I'm pretty sure that's not anywhere in the Gospel and definitely not how Jesus commanded us to be when he said love your neighbor as yourself.

Love for people . . . 12:9-13 is a description of the genuine, discriminating love that grows out of the work of God’s mercies in a person’s life. Love comes from God, is developed in community and is to be expressed genuinely. Our lives are pictured as being rooted in God’s love and built upon God’s love.

a. Conflict happens as assigned by God.
The scriptures are clear . . . you will be challenged by the response of others to you to the point where the last thing you could imagine doing is blessing them, what you really want to do is curse them and you can’t imagine empathetically entering their world. 1Pet. 3:8-17; 4:19; 5:9-11

This one was a hard pill to swallow. When I have conflict, my initial reaction is to run, run far far away. This happens in personal relationships and in my life. You treat me badly or show yourself to be someone I don't want to be around, I'll unfriend you from facebook, block you from my phone and cut off all ties. 

While this works for people who aren't truely friends and just a superficial relationship it doesn't work very well for people you have in your life that you can't get away from. People you see day to day and have to have a relationship of some sorts for your daily functioning. 

It's hard for me to grasp my head around the fact that God brought this into my life for a reason and I have to deal with it and learn to have the Godly response and let him work in my life thru this. Because in all honesty I want nothing more than to curse them and run away, while watching them get the vengeance from God at a distance, thinking to myself how much better I am than them, that I don't treat people badly.

c. God is good. Romans 12:1-2
Not everyone is ‘carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease’ although it does seem that way for some. The ‘advanced love’ club membership begins and ends with the goodness and trustworthiness of God. His assignments are perfect. His will, as you experience it is good and perfect and pleasing.

Essential mindset V.15-16
The renewed way of thinking commanded in 12:2 and empowered by the living Christ is essential to loving those who hurt or threaten to hurt us. Consider how the times when we are attacked serve as not only a profound test of our faith but an open window to see what is in our hearts. Rarely does the preoccupation with self become more evident than when we are treated unjustly or unfairly. These verses describe the mindset or attitude of Christ that should become ours if we are to love our enemies.
a. Empathy. 15
Identifying intimately and entering wholeheartedly into another person’s life.
b. Humility. 16
Verse 16 has three terms built from the root ‘to think.’ This is calling us to a common mindset where we recognize that we will not all think the same on every issue but we mutually reject our individuality for the common identity we have in and under Christ. The opposite of pride or selfishness is not that you are nothing in Christ. 12:3 teaches us that we replace thinking haughty things about ourselves by accepting our assignments and identity from God in Christ.
c. Submission. 16
Pride is the biggest barrier to loving your enemies well. Controlling your view of your self and your own wisdom along with submitting to the ‘lowly’ are the training regimens for advanced loving. It is almost absurd to think of an abused person manifesting pride as they angrily curse the one who hurt them so deeply . . . but that is the counterintuitive nature of the gospel.

One of my verses for February Memorization is Matthew 12:34 "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks"  This has convicted me the most. I'm ashamed of my responses to others and what really is within my heart. I don't want to be Twanda, I don't want to be this sinful person who when treated unfairly, or cut off in traffic, gets so angry.

I've justified to myself that getting so angry inside was OK because I never have the gumption to say anything to the person that I'm angry with. Instead, I shoot off an angry text or email to one of my friends and rant and rave about it to them while inwardly steaming and dreaming of the day when the offender "gets what's coming to them" It's embarrassing, but it's the truth.  

I've got an "advanced love assignment" and I will say it is a daily struggle. I have wanted to run away but I can't. I am determined to grow closer to God and let him change my heart and my thinking. Frankly, sinning like this, is exhausting. The constant frustration and anger wears me out. This is not who I want to be and it is certainly not who God called me to be. I am a child of the King and I am determined to be his loving daughter. Even when it's hard. Even when it hurts. Even when it's the last thing I want to do. With God's help and work in my life this is going to change. It might not always be easy and it most certainly won't be pretty.

And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Titus 2:7

1 comment:

Meg G @ Pugs, Kisses, and Bumblebee Wishes said...

Wow! Thank you. I needed to read this. I may be back to read it again.