“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15: 1-2
My honey and I had the awesome opportunity to share a meal with some new friends that we met at church. Not knowing this couple well Fred and I were both a little nervous about going. Would we get along? Would we be able to have deep or fun conversations with them? Well, the conversations flowed easily from one topic to the next. It allowed us to learn more about each other, our family history and our relationship with God. In all honesty, if it wasn’t a week night we would have stayed there for several more hours! We had a blast with them.
We not only had fun, we were blessed by their obvious love of God and family. We both shared hurts and struggles that we have gone through and some we still go through and our new friends were able to provide love and encouragement to us. They didn’t treat us as if we were silly or stupid for hanging on to HOPE for repaired relationships or the need for strength and guidance from God.
It has reminded me that, at it’s basest, that is how we are to treat those around us. Regardless if they are family, friend, foe or stranger. The ‘Golden Rule’, the words from Jesus that tell us to “Love your neighbors as yourself” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” are not always easy words to live by.
Often, skeptics of Christianity use these as an example that our faith has “borrowed” ideas from other faiths. When in fact these teachings are actually much more personal than the other religions taught. The other religions taught to not harm others. In those aspects you can just ignore your neighbor. If they go through a difficult situation…no worries-you don’t have to do anything about it. With the teaching from Jesus the opposite is true. Is your neighbor suffering? Are they going through a difficult time? Then we have a responsibility as Disciples of Jesus Christ to aid them. Even if all we are capable of doing is lending a shoulder to lean on.
One of the deeper parts of our conversation was about forgiveness. We each repeat in the words of the Lord’s Prayer ‘forgive us our trespass (sin) as we forgive those who trespass (sin/hurt) against us’. It is so easy to just repeat those words but are we following through with them? Are we truly forgiving those who have hurt us?
That answer isn’t always so easy. Thankfully, after 20+ years of divorce my ex and I are friends. But let me be real here and say that wasn’t always the case. To be completely open- I wished him harm for a while. I was hurt and I was angry. Thankfully God worked in me and through me and changed my heart toward him. I can truly say now that I love him and his new wife very much and are THRILLED that they have found each other.
My honey’s situation is a little different. I can’t speak for how he feels, though I believe that there is forgiveness working there now. But I can say that I have felt a massive amount of anger toward those who have caused him to hurt. I love my husband with every ounce of who I am and, as I would with my children, if someone goes to do him harm…my Irish blood starts to boil and watch out!
I have learned though over the last few years how harmful that anger can be. And frankly, it’s just not worth it. We both have begun to pray for each of them. We pray for healing of relationships. We pray that, if they haven’t yet, they come to a personal relationship with Jesus. It is ONLY through Him that any one of us can change. We pray for God to bless them…not such an easy one to pray (for me at least) for those who hurt you. As difficult as it is some days, we know that we have a ‘But God’ that is watching over us and is in the midst of our situation.
It is our new friends who gently reminded us of these things. To leave these things at the feet of Jesus for there is nothing impossible for Him to do!
I want to ask you to keep in mind these concepts; being there for those around you and to work on forgiving others. They aren’t always easy but I think you’ll find that being a blessing to others blesses YOU too.
We are all a work in progress, try to keep that in mind when dealing with those around you. If we don’t show them the love, grace and mercy of Jesus…who will? If not us, then who?
I pray that God will move mightily in your life. Lean on Him my friend, He’s there waiting for you.
In His very precious name.