Love your enemies, part 3

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

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Pouring out sweet freedom

Pr. 27:9:  “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.” 
Having just spent the morning playing with essential oils, this verse about perfume delighting the heart certainly stands out for me.

And is it surprising that my reading in Acts this morning also speaks to this verse?  In Acts 15 we find that “certain men” came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren of Gentiles that unless they were circumcised, they could not be saved.

The teaching certainly caused many to become troubled and upset.  The apostles and elders then met to discuss the matter and were reminded that it was the Holy Spirit who acknowledged the Gentiles and not men themselves.  James recited the words God spoke through Amos that said that all mankind could seek the Lord, “Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name.”

The Holy Spirit did not call us to place burdens upon our fellow believers.  John 8:36 tells us that, “If the Son (Jesus) makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Just as ointment and perfume delight the heart, sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.  Those believers who had been troubled received a letter declaring that no excess burdens would be placed upon them.  Vs. 31 says, “When they read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.”

Let’s make a pact that going forward we will allow the Holy Spirit to the Holy Spirit’s job; and that our hearty counsel will not trouble our friends or add excess burdens upon them, but that the freedom that was given through Jesus Christ will be poured upon them like a healing ointment and the sweetest of all perfumes.

Hoping to delight some hearts,

jamie

Sowing harmony

Twice in Proverbs 6 there is mention of sowing discord.  How can we avoid sowing discord?

Becoming humble, understanding that we are imperfect ourselves, helps us not to sow discord.

Walking in the Spirit fills us with the fruit of the Spirit, which promote harmony:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves brings harmony.  If we truly love someone as ourselves, we will want things to be harmonious and not full of discord.

Serving others helps us to love them and to desire harmony with them and others.

Praying for those with whom discord seems to be inevitable.  When you are praying for someone…sincerely praying…it becomes very difficult to talk badly about them or to them.  Sincerely praying for another helps us to love them with the love of Christ.

Imitating Christ is another way to sow harmony instead of discord.  What better example than the One who gave Himself as a sacrifice for the world.

Forgiving helps us to sow harmony, as well.  We are asked to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave us.

It is God’s will that we not sow discord.  Just check Proverbs 6, if you need confirmation.  I pray today that we will not allow discord to be what we sow, but that we will intentionally seek to sow harmony.  If we notice the seeds of discord in our seeder, we can ask God to help us replace them with those of harmony and love.  He will faithfully offer His aid.

Loving you,

jamie

To persuade a ruler

Pr. 25:15:  “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.” 

I am reminded of the story found in Luke 18:1-8 of the judge and the persistent widow.  The judge eventually avenged the widow, saying, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

The point Jesus was making in that parable was that we always ought to pray and not lose heart.  Hearing what the unjust judge said, how much more will our Father answer our requests?  When we pray, God hears our cries.

Mark 7:24-30 tells the story of a Gentile woman who asked Jesus to cast a demon from her daughter.  Jesus was not yet prepared to help the Gentiles, but the woman was simply persistent.  He was impressed that she did not quit and did as she asked.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, forbearance means:  the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry.

We see no evidence of anger in the widow or the Gentile woman, but we certainly see patient requests given more than once.  Is there something you’ve been asking the Lord to do?  I encourage you not to give up.  I encourage you to forbear with a gentle tongue.

God did not put these parables in the Bible for no good reason.  He could have left them out if He didn’t want us to follow them.  The truth is that these aren’t even the only times in the Word where the Lord tells us these things.  Over and over, He tells us to present our requests to Him.  Sometimes it takes time.  That is where patient forbearance comes in to play.

If you know the Father, and you know His love for you, then you know that He will not leave you or your family broken.  Perhaps that is why we see in Ph. 4:6-7 that we are instructed, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

We request with forbearance and thanksgiving, (with a gentle tongue), and God’s peace guards us.  Our Father loves us.  His plans for us are for good, and truly He has an eternal plan for those who love Him.  Do not give up.  With forbearance, ask your Father for what you want.  You will find Him faithful to answer you with what is truly needed.

Patiently,

jamie