Fight for Community

Today I had a conversation with a friend. My heart hasn’t been right, it was hurt. Our relationship  had been affected. I had let insecurities and other people speak their own insecurities and lies into my heart.  People's mandala - 12 handsFor weeks I had allowed the hurt to fester and grow. I was dangerously close to allowing the hurt pour out to others in anger and criticism. I was close to writing him off and being “done”.

But God loves His people. He doesn’t not want His children fighting against one another so He convicted my heart. His Spirit convicted me to the point that I had to make things right. I had to talk to my friend. I needed to share my insecurities, the lies I had believed and the things I had began to listen to from others.

To be honest this was not easy. It was very difficult. I was fearful of how he might react. I didn’t want to hurt him, but most of all I hated the thought of his disappointment. But his response was graceful. There was no condemnation or judgment. He listened as I shared my hurt, and my frustration.

He then walked me through three things. He helped me remember…

What he has done in the past. He reminded me of circumstances, and life decisions that spoke of his character. He reminded me of his consistency in his choices and the living out of his life.

His heart. He shared his heart with me. First he shared with me what I already knew about his heart, then he shared the things God was showing him.

Who our enemy is. He reminded me that we fight the same enemy and that enemy would do anything to stop the work that is being done in God’s kingdom. He reminded me that our enemy loves nothing more than to create friction and undercurrents in order to divide the body of Christ. He doesn’t want God’s people getting along.

There are parts of me that could go to the place I so often go and that is shame. I could beat myself up inside for forgetting who I know my friend to be. I have known him for a long time. We have worked along side together in ministry. Our families have broken the bread of fellowship together. I should know better. I could allow shame to cause me to withdraw, but I will choose to rejoice that Christ’s love won and the enemy was defeated in this battle.

As I have thought about this today it became very clear how easy it is for all of us to do this with our relationships (and with God). We let little things grow into big things. We do not confront and we forget.

So going forward I choose to do better.

I choose to go to my friend (or to God) immediately when I have doubts. No matter how small or petty I may think my insecurities or doubts are I will value relationship over looking foolish.

I choose to always remember who I know them to be. I will always choose to believe they want God’s best for me and would never harm me on purpose.

I choose to remember that our enemy seeks to destroy all healthy, godly relationships among God’s children.

I choose to believe that my friends, just like God, we always respond in grace and love not matter how silly my insecurities are.

Let us all remember to guard our relationship with our brothers and sister in Christ. Let us remember that we all fight the same battle…the same enemy.

What about you? Are you willing to go to your friend, your brother or sister in Christ, your pastor, Bible study leader or church leadership and fight for community. Are you willing to humble yourself and die to pride so that the body of God will be guarded? Will you, at all cost, protect the community of Christ against an enemy that seeks to destroy?

Who do you need to talk to today?

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Phil 2:1-4

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

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He Cares For Your Soul

I love how God brings reminders of truth to us just when we need it. God brought Psalm 142:4 across my path today which says, “Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.”  and I had to go look it up.

Who was speaking? Why was he feeling that no one cares for his soul? What did he do? What did God do? These are the questions that ran through my mind.

ps 142Psalm 146 is a prayer that was prayed by David when he was in a cave trying to hide from Saul. David was being pursued by Saul whose intentions were to harm him. I can only imagine how alone he may have felt.

Saul was once a friend who now sought to kill him. It’s one thing to be hated by an enemy who is a stranger, but to have a friend turn on him must have been hard.

Psalm 142 says, “I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.  I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me.  “Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”   

I can feel the emotions of David as he cries out to God. I have been in places where I felt overwhelmed, trapped, and felt the there was no one who cares for my soul. But I am encouraged by David’s reminder that in those times we can take comfort in knowing God sees us, God is our refuge, He hears us and will deliver us.

So may we cry out with David to God in those times that we are troubled in mind, body, or soul and pray this prayer and be comforted by a God who will care for our soul.

Who is My Husband?

During a recent study on Loving God and Loving Others I began to understand in a much deeper way how I am to love others. We talked about loving our neighbors, our enemies and the brethren.

Jokingly someone asked so who is our husband? Is he our neighbor, enemy or brethren? Is there a different love reserved for our husbands?

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I pray he is not your enemy, but regardless scripture is pretty clear on how we are to treat one another. However, if you do feel, at times, as if your husband is your enemy how are you to treat him? Do you still have to love him?

In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells of  man who is beaten and robbed. Who is the one who helps him? The one least likely to help, his enemy. In fact the Samaritan goes out of his way to help, and provides for his well being. Jesus then asks which of these were a true neighbor? Of course it was the Samaritan, and we are to do the same.

In Matthew 5:43-44 Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Luke 6:27-28 goes even further when it says that we are to “do good to those who hate you” and “bless those who curse you”. Again we are told to “pray for those who mistreat you.” If he does mistreat you or hurts you, you are to forgive him. (Matthew 6)

If your husband is your enemy you are called to forgive, bless him, pray for him and love him.

Our husbands are included in the “love your neighbors” and “love the brethren”. So many times as we study these verses we forget that they need to be applied to them.

Just how are we to treat one another? (Including our husbands?)

We are to love as Christ loves. (John 13:34) We are to be devoted to one another in love, giving preference to one another. Be of the same mind toward one another. ( Romans 12:10-16) In other words we are to give preference to their needs over our own. And how did Christ love us? He gave His life.

We are to encourage one another and build one another up, not tear each other up. Our words should be words of love not destruction. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We are to share our burdens. (Galatians 6:2)

And of course there is 1  Corinthians 13 where we are told that love is patient, kind, not jealous and it does not brag and is not arrogant. Love does not act unbecomingly or seek it’s own desires. It does not provoke or keep records of wrong doing. Love does not rejoice when the other is hurt. Love bears, believes, hopes, endures in all things.

So does it matter that on any given day it could feel as if our husband is our enemy, neighbor, friends, or lover? No, we are still called to love him. If he is not your brother in Christ you are still to love him as Christ loves. If your husband seems like your enemy? Scripture is clear, you are to love him.

Too often it’s easy to forget to apply the “do unto others” to our husbands but real love will treat him better than you treat yourself.

I don’t know about you but there are times this proves quite difficult! And in my flesh, it’s impossible! So it is then that we must make an intentional choice to love our husbands as Christ would want us to. We must go to God and pray for the help of the Spirit to give us the desire and obedience to love, not just our husband but all the “others” also.

What about you? Do you struggle to love your husband as Christ commands? Do you treat your husband like an enemy? Why not spend some time praying before God asking Him to show you those areas where you might be able to show more of a Christ like love. Maybe there are area’s that you need to seek forgiveness, from God and your husband?

(This is an updated post originally posted in 2009 on www.Quiet-Reflections.com)

Photo courtesy of  nuttakit, @ www.freedigitalphotos.net