I wanted to share an article I wrote for our church newsletter. Sometimes it feels like the world is so focused on "self" that respect and manners go right out the window. It's super easy for us to get caught up in that, too...
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Do you consider yourself a loving person? Do others feel better after being around you? How about people you encounter in public... those perfect strangers? How do you make them feel?
Without saying a word we can change the way somebody feels inside. A casual smile, holding the door open, letting someone ahead of you in line, a hateful look or gesture, cutting someone off in traffic, arguing with the customer service associate, or avoidance altogether. As Christians, we are called to love others. This doesn't mean you should pick from a category: strangers, friends, family members, church members, or people who can get you what you want. It means we are called to love EVERYONE.
When you stop to consider the things God has forgiven you for throughout your life, it's a humbling moment. We've all been unlovable at times. We've all said and done thing we wish we could take back. But God continues to love us, even when we don't deserve His love. In John 13:34, He's clearly calling us to follow that example when He said "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
This isn't a suggestion, it's a command. It's non-negotiable. We are to love others, period. But God doesn't tell us to love without telling us how! He gives us the scoop in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Simply put, you must have patience with people. Be nice and use manners. Don't just talk about yourself but ask caring questions about the other person and listen. Do nice things and don't gossip, disrespect others, or put them down. Don't do things for selfish reasons but think of how the other person will feel. Keep your cool and understand that change takes time (as it has with you). Don't keep a list of the things someone has done against you but forgive them and keep moving forward. And speak the truth, IN LOVE, with a kind heart and humble, caring spirit.
Every act of life is to be guided by love to God and man. Have you loved others as Christ has loved you or have you treated those you should be loving in ways that don't align with 1 Corinthians 13? What wrongs do you need to make right? Do you owe someone an apology for the way you've been treating them? Is the pain you're feeling spilling out and affecting relationships with others in a negative way? In this very moment you can begin loving others as Christ has loved you. It will not always be easy, but God will bless you for obeying His command. People want to feel loved and cared about. Imagine how many more lost people could come to know Christ because of the love you show.