“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV
Love is a vital part of being a Christian. Walking in love is one of those things we’re taught a lot about in church. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We are also commanded to do everything in love. We forgive because God forgives us. Why, because He loves us. We give because God gives. Why, because He loves us. We have compassion for others because God has compassion for us. Why, because He loves us. Love is the currency with which everything works in the Kingdom of God. Walking in love seems like such a simple thing yet it is the most difficult things to do when we’ve been hurt. Our spirit wants to bless them and embrace them with love but our flesh wants so badly to retaliate and make the other person feel as much pain, if not more, as they have caused us. We are constantly in a battle between our spirit and our flesh. It’s a painful battle.
We may start out walking in love with ease but as the betrayals, insults or lies increase, the more difficult our walk becomes. We may even be forced to see the person that hurt us everyday. They may constantly talk about or undermine us and hurts so much that we may want to just give up, even on God. We may think, if we could just let them have it one good time all our problems would be solved. But we don’t because it would probably get us fired or arrested. Frustration builds up and it can even become physically painful. So what should we do when it hurts to walk in love? I have five tips to share with you.
- Pray immediately: Prayer isn’t just asking God for things, it’s having a conversation with Him. We may be tempted to talk to our friends and that’s not necessarily bad but sometimes we go to the friend that will fire us up to respond in a way that will get us into trouble. When we pray to God we can receive the help we need to forgive, wisdom to deal with the situation and peace.
- Study and meditate on the Word of God: Whatever is in our hearts flows out into our lives. If we haven’t read about the love of God, that love won’t come out. We learn how to act and think by learning what God says about it, which is found in His Word. Yes, it’s great to go to church and watch ministers on TV but we need to read the Word of God for ourselves. The Word of God is our weapon against the attacks of the enemy. If we don’t study it, we have no real weapons in our arsenal.
- Don’t dwell on the past: Have you ever forgiven someone but find yourself later thinking about how they hurt you? You find yourself telling them off in a conversation that has only taken place in your imagination. Just me? Well, if that does happen to you, cut those thoughts off with something positive. Remind yourself that you have forgiven them and pray that they be blessed with the knowledge of God’s love for them. This requires us to pay attention to our thoughts.
- Surrender: This really goes along with prayer. 1 Peter 5:7 NIV says, “cast all your care on Him because He cares for you.” God doesn’t want you to carry the burden of anger and bitterness. Sometimes the only way a situation can be turned around is by God. It takes longer for Him to resolve an issue when we keep jumping in to fix it ourselves. We have to acknowledge that we don’t know what we’re doing and let Him take over.
- Forgive as soon as possible: In Ephesians 4:25 NIV it says, “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” The longer we hold on to our anger, the more it grows. Eventually, it will consume us mentally and physically until it takes us out completely.
You’re probably thinking, this is a lot of work. Of course it is, nothing worth having is easy. Our peace is a precious commodity and worth more than anything on earth, so guard it well. Remember God loves you. He hears the cry of His people and He is willing and able to move on our behalf. Forgiveness is hard but God would not have commanded it if He had not placed inside of us the ability to do so. He is our strength when we are weak and He is inside of us.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV