Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me…. (John 14:21).
I hang onto a lot of things. Probably some things I shouldn’t hang onto. Old t-shirts, stuff I bring home from conferences, shoes that were on their last leg a couple of years ago and whatever else I think has just a tiny bit of life left in it.
I’ve also held onto things like hurt, betrayal, and misunderstandings. I have, in the past, kept them in an account, storing up wrong thoughts and beliefs about those who, in my mind, have hurt me deeply. Keeping me from fulling the second greatest commandment given by the Lord Jesus, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
How can we fully love our neighbor if the bank account we’ve created for them in our mind is full of negative, erroneous thoughts about their personhood and character? We can’t. It’s impossible. Therefore, we cannot fulfill the second greatest commandment given to us by our Lord.
Did we ever pause and think that maybe what the people different from us need is not our vehement opinion of them founded in our own pride and self-righteousness, but instead love. Yes, love, founded in the grace and glory of the risen Savior. Love is what changes hearts. I have seen it happen first hand. Condemnation, shaming, finger-pointing, and blame shifting changes nothing, but love, founded in grace and forgiveness can turn even the coldest of hearts.
Today, I need to hold on a little tighter to my Lord’s greatest commandment to love the LORD my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Then, to act in mercy as I love my neighbor as myself. Maybe like that pair of jeans I’ve been hanging onto forever, I need to start believing that there’s still something good left in the people who’ve hurt me.
People will rise up when you speak into the good that lays inside of them, but they will never rise up for you if you only speak into the parts of their character that has yet to be transformed by the love of God. Maybe God wants to use you as HIs agent to shine HIs love into their hearts, but you keep pointing out in them what needs changing. This is such an oppressive place to put someone in and is certainly not the way God treats us. Be encouraged today that His love for you is great, truly, He is a mighty, mighty God.
As an aside, please do not feel like I’m saying if someone is abusing you that you can’t call out abuse for what it is, please do. Just don’t allow the abuse to define, in your mind, who that person is. Believe something better for them. Believe they can become something different and rise above it. Draw wise boundaries for yourself. Be conscious to let your thoughts about that person stay right and honorable before the Lord. Let love and forgiveness guide you instead of resentment and disdain.
Lord, do not let our hearts be troubled with the worries of this world. We hang onto so much in our hearts that keeps us from loving people. Forgive me for how I have done this. Instead, lead and guide me. I want to be a woman directed by love who helps awaken your love in people. I want to be an agent of that for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.