Love… is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Satan seems to be on a rampage, at least in my family.
My adolescent children go to battle daily against one another – these alien beings who once were the closest of friends. Just this morning, there were names and accusations flung without the slightest regard for sanity or the feelings of others.
Words flung like darts, drawing blood, stirring up wrath, and making me question the enormous cost of private school when I could at least be physically present to mediate arguments if they were still home schooled.
Either way, this afternoon I must attend to one of the more unpleasant parental duties. Lord, be my guide…
On a wider scale, there is ongoing conflict in my extended family. Once again, people who love one another now wound and are wounded with brutal words and fiery perspectives.
And all around me, it seems I hear murmurs of anger seething in the undercurrent of society. Social media is engaged for antisocial purposes. Marriages crumble and children are ruined by the shrapnel. Wives mock their husbands. Husbands disparage their wives. Christians do not wait for the adversary’s fiery arrows but inflame one another with an unceasing barrage of “friendly fire” kindled in our hearts.
It is heartbreaking; truly, truly heartbreaking.
Yet through it all, my God speaks to me, reminding me that while I can grieve for the sins of my children or others, I can only repent of my own.
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
(1 Corinthians 10:12)
In the midst of the wreckage, I must not fall into the perilous rut of my own sinful tendencies, responding to anger with more anger.
Now more than ever, love is needed to quench the not only the fires of fury, but also the smoldering coals which lie beneath ready to burst into full flame at the slightest spark.
This morning as I spoke with my Lord about these things, He reminded me of Paul’s letter. I was struck by the very depths of our depravity.
We so rarely act in love.
I so rarely act in love.
I can be irritable. I have been resentful. In the midst of conflict, my tendency is to assume the worst possible motives of the other party.
And my friends, that assumption is nearly always a monstrous lie.
Why is it that we tend to paint our own actions and attitudes in glowing colors, justifying our every wrong by some fault of another, and yet we presume the most diabolical and vicious motives of those around us?
We take everything personally but do not mean anything personal when we are the speaker or doer. We expect mercy for ourselves but are quick to lash out before questioning if our grievance is real or merely perceived.
We carefully store up every offense against us, keeping not only a record of wrong but preserving each complaint as diligently as we would a marvelous treasure, bringing it out from time to time as some twisted talisman of justification.
Church! Today is not the day to stand against our brothers and sisters! Today is the day to stand against evil; to rejoice with the truth; to refrain from bitterness or resentment; to bear all offenses; to believe the best in others; to hope for reconciliation in the Spirit of God; to endure all things – including the exquisite prick of conviction reminding us to purge our own hearts of the ghost of grievances past.
In love, let us assume the best of one another when we speak. Let us embrace forgiveness, remembering the Gracious Redeemer who has forgiven the massive accumulation of wrongs we have each committed against Him.
Where we are wronged, let us search for ways we have wronged others – and repent. Where there are past hurts, let us pray for the power to release them, asking God to heal the poisonous blight of bitterness in our hearts.
And above all else, let us love each other well, striving daily to fill our hearts with the love of the Most High God so our mouths will speak His goodness and praise. Whether husband, wife, child, parent, sibling, or any other relationship, let those of us who are in Christ earnestly seek humble hearts, reserving our most critical judgement for ourselves and choosing to believe in the best intentions of others.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
Lord, forgive us and guide us. How we need Your redeeming power in our relationships today! Help us to walk in the only perfect Love the world has ever known and reconcile us with our brothers. May Your grace shine in us and unify us in Christ, amen.
**Before I go, I do want to jot a note that I will soon be offering my first ever book review and giveaway! Today, however, the need to cry out for Love to intervene in some ugly situations eclipsed my heart… Stay tuned!