This is the final post in the Loving Well series. The first post in this series explored the idea that we can only love God, ourselves and others well with the help of God’s Spirit. The second post considered four ways we can love God well. The third post was all about loving ourselves well. This post will shine the spotlight on loving others well.
Loving Difficult People Well
I don’t know about you, but I could camp here for many months. First off, it is difficult to seek the highest good of those who bring out the worst in you. You know who they are.
It helps me to remember this little nugget of wisdom…
My battle plan: As often as possible, BEFORE an interaction, is to remind myself that I want to love like God loves and that I intend to seek their highest good. Then, continue giving myself and the “other” grace after grace….just like God does.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
Loving Our Friends and Family Well
Next, there are those whom we love dearly and know best; we tend to take these “others” for granted. We often take out our frustrations on those we live with and who love us most. Anybody else out there relate?!?
For me, the best way to win this war is confession.
I mean humbling myself and asking for forgiveness when I mess up. I’m not talking about a general apology here; I mean specific.
If you need to apologize to your small children for the temper tantrum you had because the house was cluttered AGAIN, then get down on your knees in front of those precious little ones and ask for forgiveness. I can tell you from experience (yes, this is from my personal story), you will be less likely to have temper tantrums if you know that this will be required of you.
And you will be teaching your children a valuable lesson: Everyone makes mistakes, and when you make a mistake, you apologize to those you hurt.
Loving Strangers Well
Finally, there are “others” that you don’t know – a cashier in a store where you shop, a driver on the road you travel, or a parent in the pick up line at school. How can we seek the highest good of these “others”?
I think a good start is to recognize that we are all children of God – even those who don’t acknowledge God as God.
They are still a child of God, just the same, and God loves and cares for them.
For God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
I know this is going to sound cheesy, but a smile can go a very long way. It is the universal sign of “Hello. You are worthy.” A smile acknowledges that you SEE the other person and that you are willing to make a gesture to show they are worthy of your attention.
And if it looks like they need more than a smile (and you know the look I’m talking about), give them a sincere compliment. I guarantee that the more you do this the easier it will become. When a new face is in front of you, make it a habit to look for something worthy of a compliment. Speak words of life into the strangers you meet.
I have enjoyed writing this Loving Well series. It has challenged and taught me much. Most importantly, it has renewed my intention to look more like love. This song from Ben Rector sums it up nicely. It has become my mantra.
This series has also shed light on how inadequate I can be at loving God, myself and others well; and yet in His kindness, he has reminded me that His grace is more than enough to allow me to mess up, try again, mess up, try again – over and over and over.