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Love in action = grace

We all face times when loving someone is the hardest thing to do.  People disappoint, create extra messy situations which require a lot of work to get through, and even sometimes just plain hurt other people.  This is a fact of life we cannot deny.  The chances are we will encounter some type of challenge in relationship this week - it is kind of part of being "related".  The ways we handle those circumstances will be as varied as the situations which present themselves.  Some will be handled with kindness, while others will present some type of challenge which will give us more than a few hurdles to jump over (such as anger, bitterness, and the like).  Wouldn't it be nice to not have to face these challenges in relationships, but instead to have things just "sail", so to speak?  Well, I don't think this is possible, despite all the hard work on everyone's part to be so "politically correct" in how we speak, or how cognizant we try to be of other people's feelings and opinions.  Part of life will be this tendency to have conflict on occasion - we just need to learn the skill to overlook some of the stuff we have been taking way too seriously!

Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.  (I Peter 4:8 CEV)

Corrie Ten Boom once said, "Discernment is God's call to intercession, never to fault finding."  Let that sink in a moment or two.  Isn't the bulk of what we determine to be "challenging moments" in relationships simply because we either did not take sufficient time to "discern" the other person's needs/opinions, or simply because we did not exercise what wisdom we already possessed?  If we would take a lesson from Corrie, I think it would be that of taking a moment to pray before we respond to the issue at hand.  It doesn't need to be a long prayer - I kind of think of them as "arrows" shot up quickly to heaven seeking wisdom and a moment of clarity before I respond.  Anytime I haven't taken the time to shoot up even the most basic of "help me here, God" type of prayer, I usually make a mess of things!

To sincerely love each other means we overlook a lot of stuff we might otherwise zero in on and "take to the mat", so to speak, in our relationships.  In other words, we respond way too quickly and in measures way to extreme for the matter at hand.  By nature, we find fault.  By allowing wisdom to govern our reactions, we are less likely to zero in on the stuff we think matters, but which really is just a little bump in the road.  As the passage points out, we need to operate in the realm of love in our relationships - allowing love to "cover over" or "wipe out" most of the "infractions" we'd otherwise want to carry around and hold against each other.  This takes some doing to get right, but the more we begin to take even the "small issues" to God before we respond to them, the more we will realize they need not get any bigger!

Corrie also said, "The first step to victory is to recognize the enemy."  Hmmm...am I saying we are oftentimes our own worst enemy?  Maybe so!  Sometimes we don't use the wisdom we have already.  At others, we neglect the simple trust we have in God to help us answer in every circumstance regardless of how "prepared" we are to give an answer.  These are "skills" we can learn, but we have to realize we need them as "tools" in our relationship toolbox in order to assist us in maintaining "peak operating conditions" within those relationships!

Love covers a multitude of sins.  Yep, not just the big stuff, but the small stuff.  Get good at letting God's grace (the outpouring of love in action) shine through you.  How?  By extending the same measure of grace you have been given.  Think on that one a moment - how much grace has God shown you?  Multiply that by 100 times and you might actually be closer to the amount of grace God has REALLY extended to you!  Now, the next time you are faced with the desire to jump all over someone else's "sin", think about the measure of grace you have received and "give out of that grace" to the other person.  This is love in action! This is what God has in mind for his kids and this is what we must strive toward.  Just sayin!

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