I started crossing paths with a man on a periodic basis in a certain setting who responded to my attempt to be warm, kind, polite, and friendly with rudeness, anger, intimidation, and an emphatic demand that I keep my distance. I prayed for him a bit and made a weak short-lived attempt to have love toward him in my heart and to be humble and respectful when I crossed paths with him. I resolved not to fall into fear but to cleave instead to love.
But in very little time my little human effort at love was replaced with fear, pride, judgment, worry, and condemnation. I was now entrenched in sin and consumed with self concerning the man. I justified my change in heart by pointing my arrogant finger at his behavior and attitude toward me and others.
Then one day when I ran into him unexpectedly, the Holy Spirit dealt with my heart and actions, led me to repentance, and set me back on the right pathway. The pathway of Christ. The pathway of righteousness. Holiness. Of love. Of mercy, grace, kindness, compassion, and care.
I had the same sense in crossing paths with the man once more that I had had initially that he had perhaps never known love, been terribly hurt in life, and been so afraid of being hurt any further that he used intimidation to keep people at a distance. But no matter the man’s personal story, he clearly needed the Lord Jesus Christ and His love and the love of humans and prayer. And no matter how he chose to act toward me and others, whether right or wrong, what I needed was repentance, a change of heart, and a commitment to do right in God’s eyes.
I had been so focused on myself and my comfort and how I felt and what I wanted and my needs and such that I had not been able to see past myself to someone the Lord had placed in my pathway to love, to show compassion toward, and to pray for. God had given me a beautiful albeit hard opportunity, and now I needed to humble myself and go forth obeying the Lord by loving and praying for the man I once would not love.
God’s command to love others as ourselves and His will that we extend care, compassion, kindness, patience, mercy, forgiveness, grace, encouragement, etc. and pray for them is NOT contingent on how others act, what they say, on how we feel, on what we think, etc. but IS contingent on the Lord. And it is by the love and power of the Holy Spirit of God who lives inside His followers that we can obey God when it comes to loving others as ourselves.
Please be encouraged, inspired, and strengthened reading the following verses and prayer I prayed to the Lord!
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 KJV
Oh, God, have mercy on us for every time we have been consumed with ourselves and failed to show love and compassion and to take the time to pray for those you have placed in our paths for that very purpose! Oh, Lord, it is so easy to love the people we want to love. And to show compassion to those we want to show compassion to. And to pray for those we want to pray for. But God, you created a world filled with people in need of love, compassion, and prayer. How many, I wonder, for one reason or another, are being overlooked, disregarded, neglected, rejected, not seen, not cared for, etc.? Oh, God, only you know.
You call us to love our enemy. You call us to pray for those who persecute us. And to bless those who curse us. And to give to those who hate us. This isn’t just something to read in your Word, God. This is truth we are to live by. Let this be a new beginning for me and my readers, dear Father. Teach us to walk in your ways. To live by your Word. To obey your commands. Oh, God, help us to love, to show compassion, and to pray for every single person on this earth that you desire we would do so. Oh, thank you God, give us the desire, the willingness, the strength, the resolve, even joy in doing this, oh Lord, AMEN!
“Let love be without dissimulation [also “sincere” per Strong’s concordance]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:9-10 KJV