Perhaps one of the people you marked as an S in yesterday’s list has done something that God would not approve of and you no longer respect them. Perhaps they are just being grumpy and difficult. It is easy to look out for the interests of another if they love us, if they are friendly or if they respect us. We find it much harder to love those who have disappointed or hurt us. But we are called to be imitators of our Lord and sons of the Most High. He is kind to the un–thankful and even the evil. He wants us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who spitefully use us. This requires an act of our will. But we have this incredible power within us that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)! God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). God’s love provides the power that enables us to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and love the unlovely.
Read Matthew 18:15–17. How do you reconcile Jesus’ command to love our enemies with His call to treat a believer who sins and refuses to listen to correction like a “heathen and a tax collector”?
Read James 4:4. How can we love our enemies without becoming friends of the world?
Love is an act of the will, not a feeling prompted by emotions.
Look back at the list you made yesterday and choose one person with an S beside their name. Make a list of at least five things that person does which annoy you or cause you concern (and make sure you keep the list in a private place!). In the next column (being as honest as you can) write down what your reaction has been to the things that have annoyed you or caused you concern.
Read through the verses below.
Choose one of the ways you have reacted that does not line up with God’s exhortation to love others. Pick one verse that particularly spoke to you and pray through it asking God to change your behaviour so that it lines up with His Word. Think of one practical way you can put this into practice and do it.
“… who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” —1 Peter 2:23
“Repay no-one evil for evil … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” —Romans 12:17a & 21
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” —John 15:13
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord; looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled …” —Hebrews 12:14–15
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” —Proverbs 15:1
“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour,’ for we are members of one another.” —Ephesians 4:25
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” —Ephesians 4:29
“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” —Luke 6:31
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” —Matthew 10:42
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender–hearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this that you may inherit a blessing.” —1 Peter 3:8–9
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” —Philippians 4:8
“Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well being.” —1 Corinthians 10:24
“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” —Mark 8:34b–35
“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” —Matthew 5:39
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” —2 Corinthians 9:6
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” —James 1:19