“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
Bearing with one another in love. Now that can be a tough one. In the carpool line. In the grocery store checkout. In the lunchroom at school. Anywhere we might be. Not just with strangers, but often with those we love the most. The art of ‘bearing with’ calls for more humility. More gentleness. More patience. Yes, often times, more than we can imagine ever having on our own accord.
To really see them as Jesus sees them. To give them the benefit of the doubt. To think the best of people first, not the worst.
The enemy has a way of sneaking into my mind and my heart. He subtly tugs at my thoughts and manipulates all sorts of wrong ideas and actions. And, yes, the enemy is just that. Subtle. (Thank you for the great message at Church in the Pines, Sunday, Pastor Friday.)
Very rarely does he pounce on us dressed as the little red man with horns. Most often he quietly comes in, yet ends up having a major field day on our lives. I don’t want to give him too much credit, but let’s be honest. The enemy is real. And, yes, our battles are with him, not people.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
I have to repeat it again. Our struggle is not with flesh and blood (people), but with the powers of darkness. AKA the enemy. That really takes the pressure off all the people we have issues with, doesn’t it? Yes, we all must take responsibility for our actions and be on guard when the devil slides in and tries to use us in anyway that is not God-honoring. But, if only we could really see people as Jesus sees them. He knows what is going on in their lives. He knows how the devil may be manipulating things. He knows and sees all. And, still loves them. Can we?
Satan wants nothing more than to damage our relationships. Control our thoughts. And, cause us to be impatient and proud and frustrated and judgmental and all those ugly things we can feel or do in regards to others. Yes, in all of this, he defeats us. Over and over again.
Thank goodness we have a Father in heaven who saw to it that the enemy would be defeated. Long before our struggles started. It all happened on the cross and resonated for all eternity when Jesus rose again.
No more defeat. No more damage. No more control. He has no authority over us. We are children of the King. And, we are able through His power, not our own, to overcome all of the ways the enemy tries to divert our attention from being anyone less than who He created us to be. Our victory is won!
So today and everyday I will need to choose. To guard my thoughts and my heart. To be patient with others. And, to bear with others in love. No matter what. It really must be a choice. And, one covered in prayer. Asking for His power to enable me to be all these things and more to others.
And, yes, He does that for me everyday. He chooses to love me in spite of my weaknesses and faults. No, I really don’t deserve His love and grace. But, He is always there. Handing out blessing after blessing regardless of me. He is the best example of bearing with one another in love. Think of what He bore on the cross. With no promise that we would follow Him or love Him.
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” ~ I Peter 3:18
He did it just because. And, just in case. Even one soul could be saved.
That’s humility. That’s gentleness. That is patience.
Yes, that is true love.