I sat in the room as silently as possible. I dared not speak, because I could not trust my tongue to not lash out. I was sitting in the room with someone who needed my help, and I had shown up to serve with good intentions. But my generosity had not been kindly received. Instead, this broken person had battered me with harsh words that pierced my soul and slimed me with condemnation.
So, I sat silently and prayed.
The next day, I was “rehashing” the experience with a friend, and she said she would have vacated the room and left the troubled soul alone. That was exactly what my weary heart had wanted to do, but I didn’t. I couldn’t leave.
Long ago, I decided I was not going to continue to love this person because of their character or actions. In light of how Jesus had laid His life down and loved a sinner like me, I would continue to love. My love must be an unconditional choice of my will that does not depend on how I am treated.
Loving others like Jesus loves us sets us apart from the world. The world will tell you to shut yourself off to those who are not easy to love. But, if you and I don’t show up and display the love of God to a lost soul, then how will those in bondage to sin and death ever come to see the mercy and kindness of Jesus?
I can’t expect a broken person to know how to love because sin has poisoned them. I can only point them to the Savior whose love can set them free.
So, instead of spewing out condemnation over my loved one, I sat silently and prayed for Jesus to help me. On my own, I know I cannot continue to love this broken person. But Jesus never said I had to love others without His help. I can ask Him to remove from me the fleshly garments of anger, resentment, and bitterness and replace them with His mercy, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience. I can meditate on how He endured so much opposition from those He was trying to save as He persevered toward the cross.
He died for His accusers and never gave up on them because He knew what was at stake. He was in a battle between life and death.
So am I. I am not fighting with an angry, difficult person. I am fighting for a lost soul to be set free from sin.
So, instead of holding on to my self-righteous indignation about how I have been mistreated, I will make three conscious choices to forgive and partner with God to see their redemption:
1. I will release my offender to God and realize that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. I will recognize that we all stand on level ground at the foot of the cross.
2. I will remind myself how much God has forgiven me, and I will stop keeping a record of how others have hurt me. I will not live looking back at the past with bitterness.
3. I will not give the enemy a foothold by rehashing how terrible someone has behaved and venting about them to others. Instead, I will turn to prayer and ask God to bless them with His salvation and peace.
No one said living set apart would be simple and uncomplicated. Choosing to love and forgive has nothing to do with how people treat us. We have received God’s grace freely. Jesus has pardoned our debt, and we have the privilege of extending His forgiveness to others.
We cannot control how people will respond to God’s generosity, but we can continue to show up and pray for His redemption.
Join us as we study God’s Word using the Set Apart study!
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