Loving people is important to me. It probably should be considering as a Christian it’s Top 2 of things I’m called to do (Mark 12:31). I think it’s important to be real so, if I’m being honest, sometimes it’s a struggle to show love, especially to the people closest to me. You see, the people closest to us can also be the ones who hurt and disappoint us the most. I like transparency so I’ll admit that when someone fails me personally, it can be so hard to show unadulterated love in return.
So let’s do this little exercise together: First, think of someone that has personally failed you. When I say “failed” I mean think of someone who has betrayed, crushed, abandoned or publicly humiliated you.
Did you love them before they failed you?
What about during the hurtful situation?
Ok, what about now?
Do you love them now?
Dig deep for a second.
Do you really love them?
Maybe you have moved on from that moment to find a healthy and resounding love that covers past transgressions. If that is your scenario – YES! Thank God for that! This is what we strive for! But maybe there are even a few readers that think of a past hurt and still feel an ugly emotion in their chest. Perhaps just hearing their name causes a heat to rise from the gut of your soul. I describe it this way because I’ve been there and that’s the best I can put words to it.
Lately I’ve been having a discussion with a small group from my church in regards to hard hearts. What does a “hard heart” look like? How do we minister to and pray for those around us with hardened hearts towards God? When these talks first started taking place I quickly and silently pinpointed a few people in my life that I feel have hard hearts. It just so happens these people are ones that are close to me and I feel that I have experienced personal injustice from. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
My daughter, Lark, is my pride and joy to the extreme. She is my beloved. She is everything sweet to me. The moment I know that someone is cold towards her, it personally affects me. If I’m not careful it can drive a wedge between me and that person. I wonder how my heavenly Father hurts when I act cold towards one of His. I know He won’t walk away from me but I wonder if I am the one driving a wedge in between myself and God as I hold onto animosity.
The more I allow bitterness, jealousy or any other negative feeling to linger, the less (Christlike) love I am showing. Regardless of the offense they caused, my response is my responsibility. The more I resent my brother or sister in Christ, the harder my heart grows. But I can only believe that my heart softens and is more like His when I choose to forgive and release.
Ephesians 4:2 says “Be completely humble and gentle; being patient, bearing one another in love.” so I will accept God’s grace and pray for a soft heart. If you think you may be harboring a hardened heart know that God’s grace IS sufficient and that He is NOT through with you (Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus).
So Lord, soften my heart. Let it be led to love purely without grudges, judgment or haughtiness. Heal me of this hard-hearted sickness that tries to sneak up while I am unaware. If anyone with a hard heart is reading this, begin the process of softening towards You. The more we love You, the more we will love Your people.