Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Choosing to Love

I remember it like yesterday, even though it happened in fourth grade.  She was a year ahead of me and she was the "cool girl".  She was so mean to me.  She made fun of me, stole my friends and even convinced the boy I liked that I had cooties so he ran away from me.  That was my first taste of utter rejection and bullying and I can honestly say I didn't like her much.  It may have been my first taste of that kind of rejection and humiliation, but it certainly was not my last.

Unfortunately, there are people in our lives that just irritate us, berate us or make us feel like we are not lovable.  These people are easy to hate.  But they are hard to love.  And yet, Jesus tells us clearly that we are to "love our enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45).  I remember thinking that was impossible the first time I read it. 

This morning, I read another verse that blew me away about this subject.  See, I never took revenge on my fourth grade bully, mostly because I was inexperienced, but in my life I have tried taking matters into my own hands with people who were ugly to me and it was never a favorable outcome.  Now I think I see why...

"Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble.  For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn His anger away from them."  Proverbs 24:17-18

I know I've read this verse before but for some reason it just screamed at me this morning.  The part that got me was where it implies that when I find sadistic joy in someone who I don't like falling (or failing) that God actually turns His anger from them and is displeased with me.  It's like this invisible force-field of protection that I put up around my enemy!  How crazy is that?

I know it's tempting to want to get even.  I know people can be downright difficult to live with.  I know there are times when it seems appropriate to be the avenger.  But the next time I feel like I need to get even, I need to remember that when I try to do it myself, I'm in essence telling God "No thanks, I've got this one" and He then protects that person from me. question for you is... whom are you praying for today? I know the list is probably a long one of the people you love, the people on your prayer list from church or bible study.  But what about those who are under your skin, irritating you to the point of frustration?  What about those who laugh when you fail?  Or try to take your job?  Or make fun of the way you look?  Or talk behind your back?  Or maybe this person broke your heart? 

The challenge for today is to pray for someone you don't necessarily feel like loving.  I know that God can change your heart for this person because His Word says so.  It's pretty hard to be mad at someone you are praying for!  God has a way of softening our hard hearts when we trust His ways and go against the flow.  There's a reason this person is in your life - maybe it's to help shape you into a better person by learning to love the difficult-to-love people or maybe it's because that unlovable person needs to encounter the beautiful love of Jesus and He has chosen you to be the vessel through which He will pour it out onto them.

Matthew 5:38-39 You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."


Kendra said...

Oooo, Leslie!! So wise for someone so young :) I remember when God showed me how true these Scriptures are: I was neck deep in a custody battle for my then 5 year old daughter, where her father wasn't being honest in his testimony or his legal tactics. I remember SEETHING and would day-dream about all the ways God could get back at him...muwahahaha!...when I distinctly heard the mandate to pray for him. EWWWW! Talk about an anger are soooo right, you just CAN'T be mad at someone you're praying for!
Now, I am personally struggling with a low tolerance for ignorance (who made me the SAT proctor of life?!?) and have been trying to cling to 2 Timothy 2:24...but your message of 'choosing love' is exactly what my pompous heart needed to hear. Love covers a multitude of sins, especially my own :) Thank you!!!

Leslie Nease said...

Kendra, I love your transparency & energy! Thank you for your comment! :) Praying He will give you the strength to choose love today!

Joy Jenkins said...

Good words for us all today, Leslie. I never want to hear them, but I do understand a little of what God must feel. I know how I feel when one of my children gets hurt or makes a mistake or just plain sins and another is quick to laugh, tattle, or rub his face in it. I'm often more irritated with the tattler than the wrong-doer and more disappointed in the child making snide remarks than the one who failed in the first place. It really hurts to think of making God feel that way toward me. Uggh!

Leslie Nease said...

I'm with you Joy! When it comes to our kids...well, it's just plain hard to take. We need His Spirit to help us be the women He wants us to be for sure! :)

Taylor said...

Leslie! I love your wisdom! Thank you for reminding me today to pray for everyone. Even my enemies. Even though it can be so hard to sometimes. I guess that's something we all need to work on!

Leslie Nease said...

You're so right Taylor - it's something we all need to be reminded of! :) Thanks so much for your encouragement!

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