There’s a lot of shouting going on about ‘rights’, about what we are entitled to, what’s ours and what we are going to do to make sure no-one takes anything away from us. I’m not going to get into that political, emotional discussion, not commenting on that hotbed of feels – except where it applies to me.
8 Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults.
I was talking to Father this morning, my usual habit and the usual list. There’s a person who He’s told me to pray for whom I always find it difficult to pray for because the honest truth is I don’t ‘like’ them. Not dislike but just not someone I’d choose to spend time with given a choice. I hope that makes sense. This isn’t a stranger someone who I will never meet it’s someone I know and – this is the point today – have to love.
It’s been a struggle for the 18+ months God has made them one of my ‘people’. It started with me praying for God to change them to fit what I expected. I wanted Him to make them in my image, to be frank. I was obviously the super-spiritual one who had it all clear cos I had ‘heard from the Lord’. But it was His gentle whisper to love that changed me. Maybe this person has been changed also but the only one whose change I am, and indeed can be, concerned with is ME!
I’ve been faithful to pray daily for this person among the rest but it’s been hard and this morning as I started I felt Him say – ‘you don’t have to like them to love them’. It was a huge relief, to once again be honest about things. The pressure was off, I could ignore my feelings and preferences, put aside my right to be annoyed or offended and just love them.
Love is a gift from God. It’s a fruit that comes from His Spirit’s work in me and it’s a sign I am becoming like Him because He is love. There’s Christianese that says God always likes us, I’m not quite sure about that. There are times when I don’t like me when I get into places I ought to not be in – but He always loves me.
We can’t like everyone, let’s be honest voices, habits, characteristics, words, actions are going to irritate us and we are going to irritate others. Loving doesn’t require liking. Loving is a decision, it’s in some ways an act of mercy. I don’t have the right to not love. I gave up that right when I died with Christ. Instead, I received mercy and that mercy should characterise all I do, say and even think.
God’s mercy is relentless.
It never gives up ever.
That puts my liking and disliking in perspective.