““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”” Mt. 5:43-48
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11
It wasn’t a pretty voice. Not a tender one. Not a sweet one. Not a gentle one. It was stern. Emphatic. The kind of voice you know you would be wise to listen to. To hear. To obey. The kind of voice you know it would be best not to say no to. If you don’t believe God speaks in a gentle voice at times, read the Bible. He does! If you don’t believe He speaks in a stern, hard voice sometimes, read the Bible. He does! He is love so He always speaks in love, but His love may manifest in tenderness just as much as it might manifest in sternness. Like the day He said this to me.
“Get down on your knees and pray,” the Spirit of Christ spoke to my heart.
Was I to pray for a loved one to be healed? No. Was I to pray for a friend needing a new job? No. Was I to pray for the safety of a group of dear friends? No. Was I to pray for a personal dream to come true? No. Was I to pray for favor regarding some personal desires? No. So what exactly was I to pray for? And why was God being stern? Why was He making Himself abundantly clear the very next thing I needed to do in my life was to drop to my knees and pray?
God wanted me to pray right then and there for a group of people some of whom had been extraordinarily unkind, mean, nasty, and cruel. A group who some wouldn’t want to go anywhere near because of the pathway they had chosen. A group who were headed in the wrong direction doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. A group who, in truth, reflected everything I myself have experienced. I have been unkind, mean, nasty, cruel, and on the wrong pathway, headed in the wrong direction doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Only by God’s grace has He forgiven me and is teaching me day to day to walk down the right pathway. His pathway. The pathway of Christ. So why was God so stern with me? And why I am telling you?
I feel compelled to tell you this, that’s why. Maybe because you can relate in some way. Maybe because God will use this message to speak sternly to you as He did to me. I believe God was stern with me that day to make abundantly clear that His way is TO HUMBLE OURSELVES, TO LOVE, TO BE KIND, TO BE MERCIFUL, TO BE COMPASSIONATE, TO CARE, TO BE FORGIVING, TO ENCOURAGE, TO BE CHRIST-LIKE, and TO PRAY. And to remember that we are all sinners in need of the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation of God through faith in Christ. We are not to judge. We are not to condemn. We need to rid ourselves of that. And we need to love in Christ’s name.
I went to my knees in prayer. I prayed my heart out for the group of people until the Lord let me know I was done.
What about you, friend? Got a group of people you need to love, forgive, and pray for? To help and encourage? To show Christ’s love to? Or an individual? A spouse? A child? An employer? A co-worker? A cell-mate? A homeless shelter buddy?
I thank God He was stern with me that day. My flesh might not have listened otherwise. To this message I believe we all need to hear.
Let us love one another, no matter the people, and no matter the cost to our flesh. AMEN!