Over the past couple weeks God has seemed to orchestrate situations in my life to give me an opportunity to show love to someone who has been a constant source of heartache and frustration. This is a person who I am unable to cut out of my life and a person who seems to constantly make demeaning and sarcastic comments about my Christian faith. However, this is also someone who has been constantly in my prayers, asking God to heal their heart and bring salvation to their entire family.
Over the past couple years, my life has been profoundly transformed by the radical teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ in regards to loving others as ourselves and even loving and praying for our enemies.
I have learned that just because you love someone, it does not mean you need to necessarily like them or approve of their actions. I have also learned that it takes a long time to change an identity you have created for yourself through your previous actions when you were living in darkness. If you have known someone for 10 years, yet only accepted and followed Jesus for about two years, chances are that person is viewing you through your eight years of negative behavior, not through your two years of changed, and hopefully, gradually improving behavior.
You could profess your faith, and talk about all the great things you have learned from prayer and Bible study, but people don’t listen to what you say, they watch what you do. In the same way a child will test the boundaries of their parents, caretakers or authority figures, upon salvation you very well might have non-believers testing you to see if you really have changed. So when someone constantly shows up as an antagonist, remember these words:
“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” – 1 John 2:9-11
Oddly enough, about two weeks ago I had an interaction with this person where I spoke out very boldly about my beliefs and certain things I felt were causing turmoil and chaos in their life. I also opposed their idea that “everyone lives their own truth” and expressed very passionately that truth does not come on a sliding scale and is inherently very black and white without room for a gray area. I left the interaction worried that I might have made things worse for our future interactions and kept praying and inviting others who know the situation to do the same.
Over the past week, some seemingly miraculous things happened. First, this person came through on a matter I needed some flexibility and understanding for. Then we ended up having the first cordial and friendly interaction we’ve had in years, and they asked me for a favor which, a few years ago, I would have probably spitefully refused, but instead agreed to help. A couple days later, there was another favor requested of a financial matter that I had every reason to deny, yet while venting about it I couldn’t help but hear that still small voice inside whispering me to, “Just be the bigger person and help them.” Yesterday these verses popped out during my Bible reading:
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” – 1 John 3:18-19
We must always chose to love, forgive and turn the other cheek. The bottom line is that the old adage is really true: actions DO speak louder than words. No matter how much negativity, hurt, resentment and anger someone might have caused or still cause you, we are still to love them by our actions not just with our words. If there is one quote that sums up the power of loving in deed and in truth it is this:
“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”
Do you have a person, or persons, in your life whom God seems to have placed there to test you and grow you in spiritual maturity? How can you more fully love that person in deed and in truth? What effect could that have not just on their life but on your own?