To work on our flaws
It’s probably a good thing to read verse 3 again, slowly: 3 And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
Read it again and look at what it says. This verse doesn’t say that it will always go well with us. This verse doesn’t present a magical world where nothing will ever happen to drive us against the wall; no, the verse actually illustrates what the real world looks like.
There will definitely be times when people will do things that will upset us. There will be times when people will do things that will make us wonder why they’ve been born at all. Sometimes people will do things that will immediately make our blood boil. The verse actually paints a picture of a world where we often find ourselves.
The verse confronts us with the question: What do you do when real life happens and something happens that doesn’t form part of your picture of what life should be like? What is your reaction to things that do not work out the way you want them to? How do other people experience you when they do something you do not agree with?
I suspect many of us stumble at this obstacle. I suspect many of us fall into the trap, showing not a trace of love. “It’s human to lose it sometimes”, we tell each other. It’s a very natural reaction, we say. But although it may come from our basic nature, it’s not right. I hope no one bites my head off when I say this, but I suspect such a response originates in our sinful nature. The fact that we are so quick to speak and react badly to things not going our way is something that we drag along from our BC (before Christ) days. And we must do something about it!
It is important that we realize this. We should actually realize that there is a flaw inside all of us and that we must be prepared to prevent things from going wrong. We must realize if we do not work on this, we will leave a whole lot of bodies on the road. Some have to work harder than others. But we must try our best not let people acting “wrong” (in our opinion) wake up our bad side, because the results are not always pretty.
And let’s be honest: It’s not easy.
Paul has a simple solution to this problem: Love. Every time other people irritate you ask yourself whether all the love you have for them can be seen in your reaction. Would that person still want to be with you once you put a full stop to your response? Or would he or she rather go and hide somewhere?
For most of us this is an area we have to work on. Most of us haven’t learnt to fully resolve this flaw inside us. We simply cannot succeed in responding with love in circumstances where people do not do what we think they should do. Sometimes our lives are just too black and white, leaving no space for the way that someone else does things.
The time has come to draw a line in the sand. It is time that we realize that such a reaction is not within the will of God and that He wants us to change. No, it is a command. We will have to work on it, especially when things do not happen the way we want them to, that even then we will respond and act in such a way that others will still enjoy being with us.
For sure we need reinforcements here …
When do people irritate you?
How do you act when things don’t go your way?
How can people feel loved, even if, in your opinion, they do stupid things?
Lord, o Lord. We are so weak! How sin has hurt us! I realize again that we are weak and do not always do what You want us to. Again I realize how weak I am and how unable I am to live love in all circumstances. Please, help me. Amen