Welcome to FACETS of Faith. Whether it’s your first visit to our pages or you are a regular reader, thank you for engaging! We pray God meets you across the pages of what He inspires us to write and share. Months in advance we ask for His direction. This month we felt led to explore difficult relationships. We all have them. How we handle them is what will define the amount of peace and joy we have in our lives. Since peace and joy is our prayer for you, our readers, we also pray God speaks to your heart and helps you have the best holiday season with friends and family!
As blessed as the holidays can be, aren’t they full of enough pressure all on their own?
Frankly, not everyone considers the holidays a blessing. Some wish it away like wind that brushes through the trees, stirring things up, desiring nothing more than for the leaves to safely settle back into place. When will this wind storm be over?
A number of years ago in a Bible study, I remember a person expressing sentiments like, I just wish the holidays were over already. I don’t like spending time with my family. They are full of drama, and the whole thing drains me dry.
Obviously, there is hurt and offense when that’s the place a person finds him or herself sitting. The Thanksgiving table (or conference room table) isn’t long enough to separate you from the person you perceive too difficult.
Your best hope seems to be to pray this thing will all be over. Quickly. Please God. Let it be over, so we can get back to normal life where we don’t have to deal with difficult people. Grin and bear it.
Can I challenge you a little on that?
Dealing with difficult people is a daily experience, because there are a lot of broken people in the world who often don’t even realize how they are impacting others.
If they do realize how they hurt others and continue to engage in that behavior, imagine how much they must be hurting inside to keep sabotaging relationships. The well of pain must run deep.
What does God ask us as believers?
If you call yourself a believer, we need to deal with people’s pain (including our own) in a different manner than that of the world.
Our flesh might want to fight back, to defend ourselves, to resist relationship because sometimes it feels too hard. But that’s not what God asks of us.
Actually, He’s not asking.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.─John 13:34 NLT
God commands us to love. Loving like Jesus calls us to isn’t easy. It’s not simple like buying a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Nope. More like being grateful that God has given us the capacity to love, because He LOVED US FIRST. Because He did and when we really grasp that, love gets a bit easier even through its difficulty.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.─John 15:12 NLT
How has God loved you?
It’s an interesting question to consider: How has God loved you?
I encourage you to journal, asking God to help you explore all the ways He has loved you. Let’s each of us get His perspective on LOVE. Even those of us with the best of intentions on loving well, really can’t fully grasp how to love like God. Remember, His love is high and vast and wide and deep like it says in Ephesians.
But we can ask Him to help us understand and act in alignment with His love. He’ll hear it as a prayer and help us all learn to love one another better.
God wants that from and for us.
Why did He give Eve to Adam? God knew Adam needed a helper, someone to be in relationship with. But remember how they blamed each other when Satan and sin came into the equation? “It’s Satan’s fault.” “It’s Eve’s fault.” And where was Adam when he was supposed to be leading his family? Oh yeah, he wasn’t, and he didn’t take responsibility for his actions. Let’s not be like them. Finger pointing never helped anyone.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or think.─Ephesians 3:18-20 NLT
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my time here on planet earth, it is that most people do not grasp the love of Christ deep down in their hearts. If they did, people would act much kinder to one another. Kind even when we see life from opposite sides of the coin. Kind when we want to cry out. Kind when we wish our own heart wasn’t so broken. Loving each other doesn’t mean we will always agree. It means we’ll love each other anyhow. We’ll love each other with God’s power when ours is insufficient.
That means every day. Because no matter how huge your heart is and how motivated you are to love well, you just won’t be able to without God’s help. But rest assured, He’ll help you.
What is the relational game changer?
I believe the relational game changer is when we experience the love of Christ as Ephesians states. The EXPERIENCE of Christ is what allows me to love others. I don’t always execute on that perfectly, but my heart now is in the right place on that. And that’s a good start. I want to love well, because I have experienced the deep well of God’s love toward me.
Even as I understand His deep love for me, I want and need to understand it more. That understanding is important for me. It’s also imperative for everyone whose lives mine intersects.
God’s love is too great for any of us to fully understand. Too great! But I challenge you to try to grasp it anyhow. It’s a worthy pursuit.
Whose side are we on?
There’s power in loving well. When we love others well we take power away from the dominion of darkness. The enemy wants hearts to be full of hatred, anger, bitterness, enmity, offense, and unforgiveness. When we choose not to love well, we’re choosing to side with the enemy.
I know that statement sounds harsh. Sorry. Our behavior doesn’t change our position as a child of God. Our behavior doesn’t steal our salvation. But our lack of loving others well (or less than we are called to), does diminish our effectiveness for Christ. It also reduces the likelihood God can use us to the fullest of the potential He has placed within us.
What might be accomplished if we really grasped God’s love?
If every child of God more fully grasped how deeply God loves him or her, we wouldn’t have buildings large enough to house all the people flocking to get near our Shepherd. We’d be like Paul radically transformed by the love of Christ making impact beyond our imagination.
Isn’t that what the last part of our Ephesians scripture says?
through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or think.
What would happen in your church, your family, your community if you experienced God’s love more and then shared it with others? What are you imagining?
Now imagine infinitely more than that. Claim the promise. Infinitely more!
What does our experience of God require?
Once we grasp God’s love for us, our experience of His love requires a response. Our love for Him. Isn’t that how love works? A give and a receive needed from both parties invested in relationship. At its best, yes.
In Jesus’ words: “If you love me, obey my commandments.”─John 14:15 NLT
Perhaps when we love well (and when we don’t) God is showing us something about ourselves. Where are those places within each of us He still needs to touch? Is God showing you a past wound in need of healing? Is He showing you a place in need of restoration? Is He helping to equip you for a new assignment? Does He need you to look at something within, so He can use you and your gifting for more than you can think or imagine?
to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or think.
What blessing does God have for you this holiday season?
Are you willing to love well to find out?
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them .”─John 14:21 NLT
Do you desire to know God more? More personally? Do you desire God to reveal Himself to you? When we are busy loving others, rest assured He will reveal Himself to us.
When I seek Him with intention to love others well, He whispers loud. He leads the way. He says, “This will bless.” “This one will feel loved when you write this.” “This one needs a hug. Go give her one.”
If you want to see God more in your life, love others. He’ll be sure to reveal Himself. Remember, He’s always there, right next to you, within you, all around. But we can see Him best when we are looking in love toward Him and others. When we do, we are blessed in the process. His plan is beautiful.
My prayer for you is that you will live a blessed, beautiful life full of God’s love for yourself and that you share it with others. Sweet, pure, and powerful love. Love illuminates God’s glory. When we love God and love others well, perhaps there is no higher form of praise we can give Him.
I’ll leave you with Paul’s words to the church of Corinth.
Paul said, “I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.”─2 Corinthians 8:8 NLT
Are you eager to accept Paul’s challenge?
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