Some time ago, a friend made a few remarks on the phone about some people. She really had not intended to be critical. Yet after we hung up I realized that I felt negative toward them, and I was going to have to go speak to this group. It's not worth the effort, I was tempted to think, as negative thoughts rolled in.
As I went about my day, an amazing thing began to happen. God impressed a precious truth on my heart. It was as though the Lord let me see these people as He did. I thought of our time together and knew the Holy Spirit would be there. Immediately, I recognized that He would not be there to be critical of them but to uplift, encourage, comfort. His banner over them would be love (Song of Songs 2:4). As I thought of His love, the Spirit poured out His love for them into my heart.
John wrote, "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God" (1 John 4:7). If love comes from God, what does He require of us? Simply that we be conduits of His love by guarding our thoughts and words and saying and thinking only what we know is acceptable to Him. If we provide the right words and thoughts, He'll provide the love.
Showing love doesn't have to be desperate striving and then failing. When tempted to speak sharply, or be ill-tempered, we're to abide in Him and pray, "Dear Lord, if those hurtful words and those slights had been directed toward You, if You had been misunderstood as I have, what attitudes would You have? Give me that mindset, the mind of Christ." He will do that when we're ready to lay down our defenses and to give up our rights to be understood and treated with patience.
Thank You, Jesus, that You never give impossible commands.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).