Often I am challenged to really assess what it means to love others. There is nothing more vital in our lives than love, for everything is bound by it (Col 3:14). Without love we are empty and void of everything God stands for. So how can we better love others?
My last blog post I spoke of tough love – to confront others who have been led astray and to humbly and gently guide them back onto the right path. Well another aspect of love is to build each other up, to always encourage one another despite our imperfections. We must never forget that we are all on a journey, and that we will slip up and make mistakes along the way. We are always a process in motion, growing as individuals. As a result of that we will inevitably hurt those around us, whether intentional or not, especially those closest to us. When dealing with each other we must be forgiving and patient, not expecting perfection. To do so is unrealistic and unfair. We will never have to forgive someone more, or be more patient, than God has already been with us!
When I look back over my past at some of the mistakes I’ve made, I quiver with disbelief and remorse. ‘How could I let that person down?’ ‘How could I betray that person’s trust?’ ‘I can’t believe I did or said that!’ Then I remember the hard truth – I am sinful. It never justifies the mistakes we make, but the fact is we have all made, and will make them. To say otherwise is to deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). I wish I could undo the wrongs I have done, but to lament on that would be to lose the opportunity to grow from it. A sign of maturity is not so much how often we make mistakes, but how we grow as a result of them. So let’s not rub other’s faces in the dirt and think the worst when they slip up, but rather encourage them to learn from their mistakes and grow in maturity. Let’s express a gracious and humble nature to those around us, to help abolish any insecurity or fear of slipping up, whilst still keeping each other accountable.
So who can you encourage this week? Who can you reassure and comfort, no matter how they may have intentionally or unintentionally hurt or wronged you? To do so is to reach out in love, as God first did with us through Jesus. If we choose not to, just think of where we would be if God took the same approach. Let’s look past the faults of others and strive to see God’s best in them. Let’s travel this challenging and exciting journey together!
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,