The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 (NLT)
I don't like her. Really. There aren't many people I can say that about. Most of the time, I like folks. And of course, if I don't, I steer clear. But in this case, I don't like her and I have no choice but to be around her. Do you know how stressful that is if you are a Christian? In order to maintain my Christian composure I need to be anywhere else but in the same vicinity. If we could be in the same vicinity but no one spoke, that would be fine but she talks incessantly. Here is this person getting on your last nerve and you can't distance yourself.
I wish I could say that every response out of my mouth was sweet as honey. Not. I wish I could say the thoughts of my heart were uplifting and full of love. But they weren't. What I was praying about was her leaving. Seriously. So, after staring at my unhappy, unkind self for a few days I went to my knees. Not jut to pray that she would leave but to ask God if there was growth in this for me.
Of course there was. God always wants our growth. I began to think about what it means to live your life reflecting God's love. And then, I began to wonder if Jesus ever disliked anyone. He disliked the Pharisees. He was always at odds with them. But why? Because their method was leading people away from God not towards him. They were causing the people harm for their own gain. But as he was confronting them, I believe his heart was for them. You see, even if Jesus didn't like what they were doing he always, always wanted them to turn and give their heart to God.
As I pondered this, I realized that I am not going to like everyone all the time. But, how I respond to them is something I can control. As I say that, let's get one thing clear. I can't control how I respond to them on my own. If left to my own humanness, I would still be a grumpy, sarcastic, unkind person. I have to keep looking at Jesus. I have to keep looking at the heart he has for everyone. I have to long for that kind of heart and pray that God will change mine to look like that.
One of the definitions of the Greek word love is to have a loyalty towards. I may not actually like this woman, but I can be loyal to her as a child of God. I can treat her with the same respect and kindness that God has shown me. I can pray to see her as God sees her so that eventually, my heart for her will reflect his.
Pray for me. I'm going to need it.