Monday, April 7, 2014

A Stumbling Block In Love

One of the hardest lessons I have to learn concerning love is my reaction to people. We know that we in ourselves are not capable of loving like Jesus loves us but he changes us so that he can love through us. This means we need to be aware of our weaknesses and submit those areas for change. The Spirit changes us but we are responsible to cooperate and submit to those changes. So one of those areas for me is how I respond when I am offended.

My reactions vary from the silent treatment, the inner brooding that eventually explodes at some point, or getting angry and removing myself from the situation. I will readily admit that when I have problems with this it is usually over how people receive a word of wisdom, an act of love or some other thing that I feel they should respond to in a certain way. I also think my reaction to this is at the lowest level of immaturity: "You won't play by my rules? Fine I will take my toys and go home." Yeah, that can be me.

I can find all kinds of excuses for it because it is how I react only a small portion of the time. I am usually really tired, sick, distracted or maybe a bit pressured over something. They might sound like reasonable excuses but in the Kingdom there are no excuses for a lack of love. Love turns the other cheek when offended. Love considers the other person more important than the offence. Love covers a multitude of sins.

The fact is that we are not responsible for how a person reacts to our love and kindness. We cannot and should not try to control people. In some ways it is not even about them but us acting in obedience to Jesus. If they reject our wisdom, our kindness, our love, our only reaction and responsibility is to continue loving them. Scripture says that love:

... does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil ... (1 Corinthians 13:5) 

In this same passage it also says that love bears all things and endures all things. Jesus simply said that love turns the other cheek. It stands it's ground, leaves it self wide open and is simply present. I see it in Yahweh's instructions to Ezekiel.

Yahweh told Ezekiel that he was sending him to his stubborn people who were in constant rebellion against him. He told his prophet to go and speak his message to this people and he said:

Whether they listen or refuse to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. (Ezekiel 2:5, Holman)

He warned his prophet not to be afraid of them or to be discouraged and to never rebel against his responsibilities. He was telling Ezekiel that it was not his responsibility to make the people obey. He was only the messenger and he must be faithful in discharging his duty. He was not responsible for their reaction to the message. It is in this same attitude we need to to apply Jesus' command to love as he has loved us. It is our responsibility to love and that responsibility does not change according to how people receive or react to us.

It doesn't matter if people discard us or look down on us. It doesn't matter if they walk all over us. It doesn't matter if they call us names or take away our rights. It doesn't matter if they completely disregard our kindness and goodness. The only correct and proper reaction to their rejection of love is to love them more; to turn the other cheek. This is what I am going to continue working on until I have submitted this area of my heart completely to the control of the Spirit. I am determined to be a prophet of love to a rebellious people.

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