Even When It's Hard

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” I’ve said it a time or ten myself. We all have those people in our lives that just rub us the wrong way or seem determined to make our lives more difficult. While it may feel like we’re doing good by adopting the behavior this mantra promotes, our motivation is all wrong.

Here’s what Scripture says about it:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” - Matthew 5:43-48 MSG

If all we do is love the lovable, are we really doing what God commands us to do? It’s easy to love the person who greets us with a big smile and a wave. It’s easy to love the person who loves us back. If all we ever had to do was love the good people around us, then why would God have to tell us to do it?

JOURNAL: Is there someone in your life that is difficult to love? How do you respond to them?

In reality, life is full of difficult people. We see examples of this throughout God’s Word. 

Saul (Paul) persecuted Christians.
Zaccheus was a greedy Tax-Collector.
The Woman at the Well lived a sexually sinful life.
The Prodigal Son was rebellious, ran away, and squandered his inheritance.
Moses was a murderer and fugitive.
Samson was a Philistine & Nazirite who made bad decisions.
David was an adulterer and murderer.
Rahab was a prostitute and a Canaanite.

And the list goes on…

All of these people were difficult to love in some way, but God used each one of them despite their flaws. We all fall short of the glory of God; but regardless of our short-comings, He still loves us and uses us to further His Kingdom. Shouldn’t we bestow that same love and forgiveness to others? 

ACTIVATION: Take the person you journaled about and list 5 good things about them. What is something you can do this week to show genuine love for that person?

PRAYER: God, I know that ___________ is a difficult person for me to love, but You died on the cross for them and love them unconditionally. I pray that You would soften my heart toward them, help me to see the good in them, and show me how I can demonstrate genuine love whenever I encounter them. Thank You, God. Amen.
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