“Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional
Written by Nancy Ruegg @ http://nancyaruegg.com
View original post @ http://nancyaruegg.com/2015/05/04/love-is-not-a-feeling/
Love Is Not a Feeling
May 4, 2015 by Nancy Ruegg
“Hi there, Fatty!” he called out. AGAIN. For several weeks this had been his standard greeting.
For some reason my husband’s boss thought Fatty was a cute nickname for a very pregnant Mama—me. On the outside I smiled; on the inside I seethed:
This man is the most insensitive lout I have ever known. How can he think such a comment is appropriate? I am sick and tired of his teasing. Add to that his lack of tact, the lies he’s told us, his sneakiness behind the scenes and just general annoyance, it’s a wonder I don’t hit him in the head!
I wish my negativity had ended there. That little tirade is bad enough. But all too often during that trying period years ago, my thoughts went round and round in a cesspool of bitterness and anger.
Then our Bible study group began a study of First John. Chapter two, verses nine through eleven shouted off the page:
“Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother
is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother
lives in the light
and there is nothing in him
to make him stumble.
But whoever hates his brother
is in the darkness
and walks around in the darkness;
he does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded him.”
(1 John 2:9-11)
Guilt washed over me.
Oh, Lord, help me to love Jim*. I don’t want to live in this dark cesspool anymore. I know it’s wrong, but every time he says or does something irritating, my mind and spirit get all churned up again. You’ve probably noticed I’ve even been daydreaming about telling him off. How can I ever learn to love a man like Jim?
Part of my problem was a profound misunderstanding of what love is. I thought it was warm and fuzzy feelings toward another person. And try as I might, or as much as I prayed, no tender affection welled up inside me for Jim. It wasn’t until years later I learned:
Love is not a feeling; it’s an action.
When another Bible teacher brought these facts to my attention, I immediately thought of Jim. Had I treated Jim in loving ways, even though there were no warm and fuzzy feelings in sight? For the most part, yes. I was able to smile, be civil, even wrap my arm around his back when he gave me a hug. I never did tell him off.
Over the years Steve and I have dealt with more challenging folks. No surprise there. Planet Earth is still our home. I wish I could say their annoyances have rarely wormed their way under my skin, and I kept myself out of the cesspool of negativity. Alas, no.
But the good work God began in me when Jim came into our lives, he has been carrying out ever since (Philippians 1:6). God has taught me, and continues to teach that:
1. I cannot control the actions of another; it is my reactions I need to control. I must set aside anger, resentment, and rehashing. I need to forgive, whether the other person asks for it or not.
Forgiveness isn’t about letting the other person off the hook.
It’s about keeping the hooks of bitterness from getting into you.
2. Sometimes, forgiveness is an act of the will, not an act of the heart. When we find ourselves circling the edge of the cesspool, we can make a willful turnabout to focus on God instead.
The key to forgiving others
is to quit focusing on what others have done to you
and start focusing on what God has done for you.
3. To foster a forgiving heart: pray for the offender.
“I do not believe you can hate a man
for whom you habitually pray.
And just how do we pray for people like Jim?
- Pray for understanding. There may be psychological or spiritual problems at the root of a person’s offenses. The person may be oblivious to the harm he is causing.
- Ask for God’s blessing upon this difficult person.
- Pray for opportunities that allow us to show him God’s love. And,
- Remember what God has done for us. I, for one, have offended God numerous times. Yet he has never stopped demonstrating his love for me. How small of me to focus on Jim’s shortcomings and faults, while ignoring my own.
Forgiveness is not easy. It stretches to the limit our capacity to love. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can take the necessary steps that will lead us there, because: