Billy Graham once was noted saying, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
What a truly profound statement. We need to remember that the way someone behaves reflects what is going on in their life, their circumstance and their heart, not yours. Our job is not to convict them and make them understand- that is for the Holy Spirit to do. Our job is not to judge them (out loud or in our minds), only God can do that. Only God sees the entire picture and will show them the mercy, patience or the discipline they need. Our job is simply this: LOVE.
That surely takes some of the pressure off doesn’t it? We don’t have to figure out the “why.” Just stay in faith by obeying what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40. The greatest commandment is to LOVE God with your whole heart, soul and mind. The second commandment is to LOVE your neighbor as yourself. It doesn’t say to love them when they deserve it or have earned it. It just says LOVE.
In fact, in Matthew 5:43 Jesus even tells us how to deal with enemies. He says, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Let me tell you from experience, praying for those that have hurt you dissolves the anger, confusion and frustration of the situation. You see them with softer eyes and understand that the people that are hurting, frustrated and suffering the most in their own lives, are usually the quickest to behave badly.
When you initially start praying for them, it feels like you’re just going through the motions in order to be faithful in following Jesus’ command. But… what ends up happening, is you begin to truly feel sorry for what has made that person so broken. Then you find yourself starting to petition God to heal them, forgive them and bless them abundantly. You ask Him to show them the love, forgiveness and mercy you have been shown. Love comes in many forms and the people that are no longer in your life but you need to forgive, this act of heartfelt prayer and petition IS your way of showing love and fulfilling the command.
It’s SO freeing!! I would encourage you to think back deep into your past. Are you carrying around sadness, insecurities, anger or bitterness towards anyone that has hurt you? Sometimes we are and don’t even realize it. One way I can tell if something is bothering me deep inside is this: If you say their name out loud or think of that person and your heart speeds up, you feel nauseous, your shoulders tense or any other sort of physical manifestation, the likelihood is, you have buried something deep inside of yourself and it probably is, in one way or another, affecting your life. Friend, it is not your burden to carry. (Matthew 11:28-30) Be brave; add their name to your prayer list and see what God does to heal you in the process.
This is easier said than done, I know. I have chapters of my life that are of pure survival. But that is why I need to share with you what has helped me and healed me. From the major, life altering pain to the less significant but still hurtful bad behavior of people you know or do not know- I speak from my heart when I say… praying for them works. Loving them, especially when they do not deserve it, works. Giving it over to God for the judging and the Holy Spirit for the convicting releases you from the burden of wondering and trying to figure it out.
And then one day, it’s just a person you once knew. One day, it’s just this thing that happened. One day, you realize how healed and at peace your soul is, and you don’t even think of it anymore. One day, you sit with God and realize the blessing. He has restored you. He has blessed you abundantly. He has given you the ability to let it go and move forward. You put in the work and once again… He lovingly did the rest. Stay faithful in prayer, it’s a recipe for goodness.
I will leave you with a lovely reminder from Joel Osteen, “God has already defeated every enemy. He’s already planned out your days for good. Take your seat. Live from a place of rest, a place of peace, a place of trust.”
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