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follow the way of love

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I really, really hate to admit this, but there have been times when people get under my skin. Please forgive me. But it is true.

I get irritated, frustrated and annoyed. Bent out of shape, angry and drained.  Offended and hurt, perplexed by their behavior. It festers deep under the skin like an itch that can’t be scratched.

Can you relate?

Have you struggled relationally with relationally-challenged people and wondered, “Why can’t you be more like me???”

I am going to go out on a limb and assume that I am not alone.

I think what causes me such pain in all of this is knowing how seriously Jesus takes our relational health to heart. Unity and harmony, forgiveness and grace are not just sprinkled in here and there throughout the Bible, but they are the fundamental building blocks for living a Christ-centered life.

And so, when I find myself perplexed by the behavior of another person, and when I allow that behavior to get under my skin, the discomfort I am feeling is not so much the itch that can’t be scratched, but it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit reminding me that I am out of God’s perfect will.

There are times when relational disjointedness requires confrontation. It demands a conversation. When we are not seeing eye-to-eye, and offenses are being traded back and forth, then we need to approach that individual, in love, and have a heart-to-heart.

There are other times when hurt and brokenness can’t be resolved in a conversation. Perhaps the offender is no longer living, or they have cut you out of their life, or you are dealing with a person with deep emotional brokenness themselves, and they are not open to listening. What are we to do then?

And what about those individuals who work tirelessly to bring pain, slander, and insults to you because of your faith? Their words not only create an itch that can drive one to virtual insanity, but they wound, kill, and bring bitter tears. What can we do?

The salve for the un-scratchable itch, that thing that protects the heart from growing bitter and turning hard, and the bandage for the wounded soul is prayer.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:3-10, 44

Love our enemies? Pray for those who persecute us?

What?

Why?

Because it’s the merciful who are blessed.

Loving and praying do not excuse the painful or irritating behaviors that cut us deep and leave us broken. On the contrary. Loving and praying is the most effective way of rebelling against our own sinful nature which is wired to fight back and retaliate with the same pain and irritation. Loving and praying keeps our hearts pure and our minds steadfast.

How do we pray?

Joel and I just completed a class led by Dr. Dick Brogden where he taught each of the participants how to pray for those who have wronged us, hurt us, or simply drive us crazy. It is called the Mercy Prayer.

Lord, flood the one I am thinking about with your fulfilling mercy. Meet their every need as YOU see it, and draw them to yourself. Fill them with the Holy Spirit. Make Jesus real to them, and draw them to yourself.

I have started to use this prayer frequently in my daily prayer time. While the words themselves are not magical or mystical, there is definitely a powerful interaction that takes place between me and God when I pray them. Anger is diffused. Bitterness loses its stronghold on my heart. And love overwhelms. I’m becoming more merciful.

The kind of love that Jesus wants us to cultivate is not the emotional, feelings-based, warm-fuzzy-type of love. Jesus wants us to cultivate the kind of love that endures, is sometimes messy, and always producing in us His character.

Which means it requires sacrifice.

Which means that, instead of punching back, we pray.

Pray mercy over the ones who hurt you the most.

And follow the way of love.

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3 Responses to “follow the way of love”

  1. Judy Hayburn says:

    Very powerful, Amy. I believe that was truly inspired by the Lord. It has really given me encouragement as well. Keep writing!!

  2. tessa bird says:

    Thank you!!! I am in a relationship with a woman who just yesterday learned that she has a very good chance of having mouth cancer. I went with her and I did my best just to love on her. And for some time now I have been asking God to prepare me to be of service to someone and it is her. She’s been with me for over a year but everything changed yesterday. I joked the day God took my desire to drink away

  3. tessa bird says:

    I accidently hit submit. Lol! I joked that God had something big planned if He finally answered my prayer. I learned in AA in my early 20’s to pray for the person who irks you, for 30 days. It works! I tell everyone. Thank you for this. I am ready to press on and read on. Xoxo.

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