Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Luke 6:32

"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them."
Luke 6:32

This verse comes after a statement that we should treat others as we wish to be treated, which is a pretty common theme in the scriptures. :)  And I think that it is an important clarification.  Often when we think of doing as God asks and loving people, we consider only the people we already like.  We think we're doing pretty well if we can manage to love our families, our friends, and generically feel a love for church congregations or other people who believe or think as we do.  ... And, truthfully that *is* an accomplishment.  Any love and true openness and goodness is an accomplishment.  We should feel good about mastering that.  But I think what we need to remember is that it is only a first step.  We can't expect the gratitude of Heaven for learning to love people back.  The lesson here... the challenge in this commandment... is to learn to love people that don't love us.
Often we determine how we treat people by how they treat us.  If someone is rude, frustrated, or tense when we first meet them, we are accordingly less polite, less patient, and less calm with them.  It's a pretty natural reaction.  But God expects more from us, and he gives us the power between experiencing something and reacting to it to change the way that we think and feel about it.  We can take a step back mentally, and instead choose to be polite, patient, and calm.  And the ultimate coolest thing about it is that when we practice breaking that negative reaction cycle in ourselves, we start seeing a *positive* reaction cycle from other people.  If we treat people kindly, we often are treated kindly in return.  We can make the difference.  Even if it doesn't work at first, it often can long term.  And, in the end, it takes more than outward actions.  It is usually easy for people to see when we're being insincere.
Today, let's give other people the same leeway we give ourselves to be in a bad mood or to react poorly, and to still be a good person underneath. :)  Additionally, let's take time to seriously reflect on our underlying emotions.  If we truly dislike or hate an individual or a group... how can we learn to understand and love them more? Are there good things about that person or group?  Does God love them?  (Hint, the answer to that last one is YES.)    Let's pray, and with God's help, figure it out.

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