“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV
Love is a vital part of being a Christian. Walking in love is one of those things we’re taught a lot about in church. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We are also commanded to do everything in love. We forgive because God forgives us. Why, because He loves us. We give because God gives. Why, because He loves us. We have compassion for others because God has compassion for us. Why, because He loves us. Love is the currency with which everything works in the Kingdom of God. Walking in love seems like such a simple thing yet it is the most difficult things to do when we’ve been hurt. Our spirit wants to bless them and embrace them with love but our flesh wants so badly to retaliate and make the other person feel as much pain, if not more, as they have caused us. We are constantly in a battle between our spirit and our flesh. It’s a painful battle.
We may start out walking in love with ease but as the betrayals, insults or lies increase, the more difficult our walk becomes. We may even be forced to see the person that hurt us everyday. They may constantly talk about or undermine us and hurts so much that we may want to just give up, even on God. We may think, if we could just let them have it one good time all our problems would be solved. But we don’t because it would probably get us fired or arrested. Frustration builds up and it can even become physically painful. So what should we do when it hurts to walk in love? I have five tips to share with you.
- Pray immediately: Prayer isn’t just asking God for things, it’s having a conversation with Him. We may be tempted to talk to our friends and that’s not necessarily bad but sometimes we go to the friend that will fire us up to respond in a way that will get us into trouble. When we pray to God we can receive the help we need to forgive, wisdom to deal with the situation and peace.
- Study and meditate on the Word of God: Whatever is in our hearts flows out into our lives. If we haven’t read about the love of God, that love won’t come out. We learn how to act and think by learning what God says about it, which is found in His Word. Yes, it’s great to go to church and watch ministers on TV but we need to read the Word of God for ourselves. The Word of God is our weapon against the attacks of the enemy. If we don’t study it, we have no real weapons in our arsenal.
- Don’t dwell on the past: Have you ever forgiven someone but find yourself later thinking about how they hurt you? You find yourself telling them off in a conversation that has only taken place in your imagination. Just me? Well, if that does happen to you, cut those thoughts off with something positive. Remind yourself that you have forgiven them and pray that they be blessed with the knowledge of God’s love for them. This requires us to pay attention to our thoughts.
- Surrender: This really goes along with prayer. 1 Peter 5:7 NIV says, “cast all your care on Him because He cares for you.” God doesn’t want you to carry the burden of anger and bitterness. Sometimes the only way a situation can be turned around is by God. It takes longer for Him to resolve an issue when we keep jumping in to fix it ourselves. We have to acknowledge that we don’t know what we’re doing and let Him take over.
- Forgive as soon as possible: In Ephesians 4:25 NIV it says, “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” The longer we hold on to our anger, the more it grows. Eventually, it will consume us mentally and physically until it takes us out completely.
You’re probably thinking, this is a lot of work. Of course it is, nothing worth having is easy. Our peace is a precious commodity and worth more than anything on earth, so guard it well. Remember God loves you. He hears the cry of His people and He is willing and able to move on our behalf. Forgiveness is hard but God would not have commanded it if He had not placed inside of us the ability to do so. He is our strength when we are weak and He is inside of us.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV
Lord, even though you knew I would complain, curse, have a bad attitude and be tempted to grow weary with doing good today, You still woke me up. In spite of my potential to add to the negativity of world, You saw my potential to add positivity. You still chose me to be Your hands and feet on the earth. Lord, I’m amazed at Your ability to see the good in me. Every day that You give me breath, You give me a chance to be the person that You know I can be. I can’t adequately express my gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy and love endures forever.
Lord, You knew me before I came into this world. You knew that I would sin and rebel against You. But in spite of the heartache You knew I would cause, You still gave me life. You loved me so much that You sent Your Son to take my place to suffer the punishment that was meant for me. He laid down His life just so that I could have a chance to spend eternity with You.
Over the years, You carefully watched over me and provided for me. You patiently waited for me to turn my heart towards You. When I decided to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, You, along with all the angels and saints in heaven rejoiced. You forgave me and welcomed me into Your family. Now, I can hold my head up high because I no longer have the weight of my sin holding me down. I’m no longer ashamed of my past, it has now become my testimony.
Thank You, Lord. May the works of Your love be completed inside of me.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV
When I comfort a friend in pain, you might say that I’m walking in love. If my enemy is in pain and although, I don’t rejoice in their pain, I do nothing to stop it, am I still walking in love? What if I help a stranger in need but I just shake my head when I see my abuser in need, is that walking in love? How about if I see my brother or sister heading for an eternity in heal and I tell them about salvation through Christ, that’s walking in love, right? However, if a person who has stolen from me is headed towards an eternity in hell and I just say that I forgive them but I never pray for their soul or I refuse to tell them about Jesus Christ, would I still be walking in love?
Jesus is our example of love. He walked in love every single day. He didn’t refuse to help those who were considered outcasts. He died for those who loved Him and hated Him. If I am to follow His example I must truly walk in love even when it hurts or it seems unfair. Limping along just isn’t good enough because walking in love could mean someone’s soul.
“If I speak in the tongues of man and angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
Love came down from glory and into this world. It carried the burdens of our sins to the cross. It allowed us to receive forgiveness and salvation. That same love heals my broken heart. It calms me down when I’m angry and prevents me from seeking vengeance. It allows me to see the other side of the story and leads me to pray, instead of responding with harsh words. Not only does this love give me the strength to forgive but it gives me the courage to open my heart again and let go of the past.
Only God’s love could do all of this. His love changes us into a new creation. Thank you, Lord, for loving me so completely. Your love allows me to love others as You love me.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12 NIV
Do you know what they did to me? I was sent down to help them. I loved them and taught them. I only wanted them to have a chance to spend a lifetime with my Father.
I was not greeted with open arms or thanksgiving but with insults and abuse. While I hung on the cross, I never gave up hope. Before I took my last breath, I looked up towards heaven and asked my Father to forgive them. I knew they were a broken people but they were still worth saving.
I tasted death and willing went to hell in their place. On the third day, I triumphantly rose from the grave knowing that because of my sacrifice, generations to come would be saved.
My Father is faithful and willing to forgive anyone that comes in my name and repents. Sadly, there is still something holding them back. It is their refusal to forgive. There is no one who is without fault, yet they expect perfection from each other.
Dear beloved children, I would never ask you to do something that I wouldn’t do myself or that I haven’t given you the ability to do. Please, soften your hearts and forgive each other. Love one another as I love you. I only want you to receive the full blessings that I have sacrificed my life for you to have.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them , for they do not know what they are doing.'” Luke 23:34 NIV
“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:39 NIV
Let me get this straight, even though I’ve been abused, lied on, called out of my name and cursed, I’m supposed to let it go and forgive? Not only am I supposed to forgive but I’m expected to pray for them? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find time to pray for myself? What if I pray for them and they never get what they deserve?
Are we sure this isn’t just for pastors to follow? Did Jesus really expect us all to live by this command? Can I just tell them off one good time first? This is too much!
Lord, I’m going to need some serious help. This is going against everything in my flesh but I want to do what you have commanded. I want to forgive and love others as Christ forgives and loves me. But Lord, I’m going to need your strength.
“Bless those who persecute you, bless and not curse.” Romans 12:14 NIV
I’ve been in this prison for twenty-five years. I hate it here. I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I used to be happy and friendly. I was never afraid to love. Now, I’m always depressed and suspicious. I can’t show an ounce of weakness. Forget about hope for the future, I’m just trying to survive. It’s all because I decided to hold on to my anger.
Well, today, I’m breaking out. I’m letting the anger go. Instead of cringing every time I see them, I’m going to see them as God sees them. Instead of cursing them, I’m going to bless them. Instead of talking badly about them, I’m going to pray for them.
Enough is enough. There’s no reason for me to remain in this prison of my own making. I’m ready to see the sun again. I want to be free.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 44-45 NIV
I own my anger, it’s all mine. I wear my anger as a badge of honor, boldly displaying it wherever I go. Don’t be fooled. I’ll speak of good things for a while, but if you mention that thing that happened to me ten years ago, I will explode. I’ll let everyone who is willing to listen to me about how I was mistreated. I’ll be so wrapped up in reliving those memories that I won’t notice how people’s eyes glaze over when I ask, “do you know what they did to me.” I won’t even notice when people start to avoid me like the plague. Everyone needs to know what happened. I didn’t do anything wrong. They made me like this.
Wait a minute, let me back up for a minute. I just said that, “they made me like this.” Could it really be that I’ve given the people who hurt me control over my life? Have I allowed them to keep me miserable and miss out on divine relationships and opportunities? You know, I can’t remember the last time I clearly heard from God since I relinquished control. What in the world is wrong with me?
Lord, please, forgive me for the time I’ve wasted holding on to my anger. Help me to let it go. Please, heal my broken heart and help me to forgive those that have hurt me.
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 NIV
I know what I did. I’ve hurt people and displeased my Heavenly Father. I’ve been mean. I’ve said hurtful things and I’ve judged people harshly. I have not only acted this way towards others but I am just as guilty as acting this way towards myself. In fact, I have probably hurt myself more than I have hurt others. I’ve tried to self medicate my pain instead of allowing God to heal me. I was wrong.
Although, God was not surprised by my actions and thoughts, He was still displeased. He taught me better than this. Instead of allowing my guilt to continue to disrupt my sleep and hold me back from receiving my blessings, I decided to confess my sins to the Lord. I decided to turn over all my past hurts and all of my weaknesses to Him. I decided to pray and bless others instead of saying something unkind.
Do you know what He did after that? He forgave me completely. He healed everything that was broken inside of me. He softened my heart to his instructions. What a blessing it is to be forgiven. I am free to become the person God has created me to be and I am free to do what He has called me to do, which is to love others and bless them. I can love without fear now because I know that If I do get hurt, God will heal me again.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteosness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV