How do we show love to those in our family, our circle of friends, our neighborhoods that are not living the way that we believe is right? Yes I do believe in a right way and a wrong way to live our lives as Christians. I believe that as time progresses our society is becoming much more tolerant of lifestyles that simply do not jive with scripture. We are not the first generation to ever deal with this dilemma. Solomon told us in his personal journal, Ecclesiastes, that there is nothing new, no ideology, no sin, nothing!
A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again. All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages Which were before us. Ecclesiastes 1:4-10, New American Standard Bible 1977 or NASB 1977).
Any technology that we have today had the seeds of existence from the very beginning it just took humans time to find the solution. Every weather phenomenon we think so important has happened before. Every day the sun rises and sets and four times per year the seasons change. Nothing new under the sun as Solomon said. I doubt that God is ever shocked by our depravity rather God gave us the free gift of grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus teaches us many things about love and the greatest act of love was when He came to this earth as a man and walked the path of life where hard work was necessary to sustain life, just like we walk today. Jesus talks a lot about love, real love, not twisted worldly love.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-38, (NASB 1977).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? “And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48, (NASB 1977).
Many sermons, devotions, blogs posts, and books have been written about the love relationship Jesus asks His followers to exhibit in their daily lives. We all know that we are to show everyone the love of God but what are some ways in which we can do this with people who think differently, act differently, and live differently than we live? Here are some simple steps that I think can be easily followed to achieve such love toward every person we meet, enemies included.
- Watch our language. Speech is not always easy to control but if we can learn to watch what we say in public as well as in private then we will be less likely to offend others.
- Watch our body language. Rolling our eyes, frowning, mocking, or other forms of body language when we disagree with someone does not make them want to like us.
- Smiling is an international language so use it often. When we smile at someone we are silently communicating goodness, interest, and openness in what they have to say.
- Listen, process, and think before speaking. I have found that when I disagree with someone’s lifestyle I can learn a lot by listening to their concerns. Often they bring up things I had never thought of before. Making sure that I have thought out any response is always better than speaking the first thing that comes to mind.
- Pray for others and let them know that you will be praying for them. For example you are in a sandwich shop and the clerk looks like she has a headache. Pray for her and say something like, “Must be hard standing all day long but I appreciate your making my sandwich, it looks yummy.” She might reply with, “Normally this is not a problem for me but today I have a headache.” Then I reply something like, “I’m sorry, I will be praying that your headache goes away soon.” I have never had someone say to me that they didn’t want or need my prayers for them. They always smile or say “thanks!”
- Accept the partner and show kindness to them. So many people today are not married but live together. I don’t approve of this but I have come to understand that in these situations preaching the good news requires friendship and understanding first. It confuses people when they think that you will judge them for their lifestyle and you do not. It isn’t my place to judge the non-Christian that is God’s job. My job is to tell them why I love Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do the work of convicting them of their need for a Savior.
- Kindness is better than bitterness, love is better than hate, forgiveness is better than holding grudges so be kind, show love, and forgive often.
- If someone comes to you and asks why you are not a preachy judgmental person then you can have the opportunity to tell them all about what you believe and why you believe it! But if you are a preachy judgmental Christian, then you need to stop that attitude and get back to the basics of Jesus’ teachings about love.
- Remember that loving your enemy makes you vulnerable. Be innocent as a dove but wise as a serpent (Matthew 10:16) which means be careful and watchful around someone who may want to harm you. You can be kind in many ways to someone who isn’t all that safe for you to be around. One way is to stop reacting to the buttons they try to push in you. You can also pray for them that God will draw them closer to Him. You can think of how they may be feeling towards you and why they may feel that way and then do all you can to keep living in a state of peace with them. You can also leave them alone. Ask God to help you be wise in dealing with your enemy.
- Finally remember that love covers a multitude of sins, yours, mine, and theirs (1 Peter 4:8). Showing love is not hard, but it does take practice so look for opportunities to show others who are around you the love of God.