“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Tim 1:5
We’ve all had friendship issues. Times when someone does or says something that hurts us. We all tend to respond according to our nature.
Some of us hide, some of us act like nothing is wrong and bury it, some of us lash out in kind, some of us confront.
Over the years the Lord has pushed me to re-think how I respond in these situations, and how can I walk in the power of the Spirit and the character of Jesus in my responses. This is the verse He has used to challenge me. When I don’t know what to do, I use this verse to guide me. Everything that scripture teaches us is so we can love, so we can be like Jesus – who IS love. If the goal of our instruction is love, then love MUST be the guide I follow.
So I always ask myself, “What would love dictate?”
This is not always easy to answer, usually because our view of love is distorted by the world in many ways.
- brought Jesus to the cross
- calls us to live sacrificially for others
- calls us to forgive
- calls us to a life of surrender to God
- shows the world we are disciples of Jesus
- is without hypocrisy
- is the fulfillment of the Law
- builds up
- never fails
The list goes on and on. But I think you get the point of how DIFFERENT true love is from the counterfeit that the world shows to us.
So, in a painful friendship/relationship where you have been hurt by another person and you are tempted to act “according to your nature”, think and pray:
in this situation, what is the MOST LOVING THING you can do for this person?
Sometimes, the most loving thing is to say nothing and pray. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to speak truth and not allow someone to continue to wallow in their sin against you. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to place “boundaries” in our lives…not for OUR self-preservation, but because it is the most loving thing FOR THE OTHER person.
Once you can forgive them in your heart (regardless of whether they asks for it or not), then your prayer should be, “Lord, what is the most loving response for this friend? Should I speak up and let them know how destructive their behavior is becoming and see if there is any way I can be a help to in the midst of their obvious struggle. OR should I forgive and forget and extend Your grace in this situation?”
But you need to realize that if you do bring it up, they may respond badly. Since love is your motivation, you need to ask the Lord to put a bubble of protection around your heart so you don’t take personally anything they might say. It’s not about you, it’s about loving your friend as Jesus loves you.
Confrontation is never easy…even for those of us who are more confrontational. We always doubt, we are fearful, we feel guilt. But when love is my guide, it is easier to take ME out of the equation and really concentrate on listening to the Holy Spirit show me what is the most loving thing for the OTHER person.
How has LOVE guided your actions toward others? How should it?
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