Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 02/10/16

Be Mine - All of You


STORY: Paper Valentines

Remember gluing pink and red construction paper to a shoebox to create your Valentine’s mailbox? Paper folded in half cut in an ear shape—opened up to look just like a Valentine’s Day heart—or at least close enough to be selected for the prestigious mail box. We drizzled glue over the hearts, and sprinkled on glitter for a little touch of pizzazz. I had to make my box special to get that special crush to notice. To keep love equal in the classroom, Teacher printed out the class roster so we gave each classmate a card. Room-moms planned parties to rival their own children’s birthday bashes. Punch featured floating sherbet islands and the refreshment table offered towers of gooey cupcakes. Candy conversation hearts spelled out cheeky love letters. 

Love becomes more complex as we age. Relationships are complicated. Unconditional love seems unattainable as personalities clash. But oh! the indescribable miracle when love happens despite the details. Love is made complete when both individuals love the Lord even more than they love each other. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, so it makes sense for a believer to exhibit more fruit than an unbeliever. We have OnSpirit assistance!

What about those unlovable folks? The ones who annoy, offend, or bully? Perhaps if we followed the example of our class Valentines, we would see a change. Just as Teacher encouraged us to love them anyway, our Lord teaches us to not merely love our friends, but to love our enemies and those somewhere in the middle of the continuum. Just like I had a class roster when I was in grade school, I have a prayer list of people I need to learn to love. I find that as I pray for them, and for our relationships, God’s love flows through me, to them. It doesn’t mean I have to like them, but I do experience a special love that only comes from Him.

STUDY: Love them All!

Love Your Enemies
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48 NLT)

• This passage suggests we pray for those who persecute us. When we pray for those we find hard to love, God helps us see them through His eyes so we can love them as He loves them. What do you think the reward is in loving your enemies?

• The end of this passage says we are to be perfect (whole, mature, complete, godly). What do you think loving the hard to love has to do with this spiritual growth? Do we love more and that helps us grow, or do we grow more and that helps us love? (No wrong answer!)

Bless the Hard-to-Love People
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:27-36 NLT)

• What are some examples of love shown in this passage?

• Since God is our example of showing love to hard-to-love people, how do our actions need to change to be more God-like in our dealings with these people?

STEPS: Love in Action

God uses people to touch His hurting children. Be part of God’s outstretched hands to help others in need. While we look out for the needs of others, God takes care of our own needs. It is a chain reaction of goodness.

How will you be used by Him during Love Month to reach out to those hard-to-love people? Here are some ideas:

Phone calls. Ask God to put a name on your heart to call. When they hear your voice, they will hear His heart.

E-mails. Be careful to write only positive, uplifting notes of encouragement.

Financial gifts and purchased items. If you have any excess, how might you use it to bless someone who probably doesn’t deserve to be blessed but God loves them anyway? Even if you don’t have extra money, maybe you can recycle something you own by passing it on to someone who needs it. (But don’t give them your trash. That doesn’t say “love.”)

Grace it forward. Repay a kindness by being kind to someone else in need.

Risky blessings. Take a risk and be a blessing to someone in an unusual way. You will be surprised how good it feels! 

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