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I'm right, aren't I?

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (I John 4:20-21)

This one may seem like a tough one for some of us because there are some individuals we really don't have any positive feelings toward, aren't there? Try as we might, we just don't understand what they are doing, how they are behaving, or where they seem to be headed, oftentimes taking others with them on their misguided journey. We 'want' to love them like Christ asks us to, but we struggle with actually finding much of any type of 'redeeming qualities' in those individuals. I am by no means an expert example in this area of loving ALL people, but just some thoughts on how I deal with the ones I find it hard to 'like', much less 'love'.

It begins with me recognizing I am 'boastful' about the differences in the behavior exhibited by the individual I have issue with and my own. Most of the time this means I am a little too 'self-righteous' - I see my behavior as 'superior' to theirs. Trust me on this one, I seldom exhibit consistently 'superior' behavior! I might have moments where my behavior is pretty 'right on', but they can be followed by others where there is nothing 'right on' about it! We begin our journey of living others by asking God to keep US humble - aware of our own short-comings, challenges, and habits. You have heard it said it is easy to see a fault in another when that same fault exists in us. Recognizing this can be the beginning of a journey where we stop feeling negative toward an individual and begin praying for not only them, but ourselves!

It continues by me acknowledging all of us have been created with a sin nature - none of us were created without the desire to follow paths we know aren't the best ones to take. This may not seem very significant at first, but if we begin to recognize we all have the SAME propensity toward sin, perhaps we will begin to understand there is a real struggle within that directs the behaviors of the individual. The way we behave can even be a combination of our sin nature (propensity toward sinful actions) and our conditioning (the way we were raised and taught). Undoing 'bad conditioning' is sometimes harder than being free of our 'sin nature's pull'. We begin by praying for understanding - not so much of the other person's issues, but your own. In time, God will begin to show us ways to be a positive support to others who struggle in similar ways. 

Loving others isn't easy, and it requires some pretty deep awareness of our own actions, attitudes, and 'propensities'. Perhaps this is why it is easier to dislike the individual rather than find ways to be a positive support in their lives. We don't like being humbly aware of our own shortcomings, much less using them as a springboard to pray for another. If we begin to think less about how 'right' we are and how 'wrong' the other guy is, we might just get to the point our prayers begin to unlock new behaviors in both of us! Just sayin!

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