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GROWING IN CHRIST

"Loving Against the Odds"

Date published: 12/30/2013
Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (NIV)
 
Have you ever felt like life is filled with enemies, persecutors, or those who treat you unfairly? From every side you feel persecuted and attacked – while driving, talking to computer companies, navigating phone prompts, dealing with retail clerks, fellow workers, fellow committee members, and the list goes on. Anyone can be your greatest friend or biggest enemy. Miscommunications, assumptions, pride, over-sensitivity, losing control, or any number of things can turn a person into an enemy in the blink of an eye. Jesus does not deal with the cause of contention, who is at fault, or how to deal with these issues – He simply gives you the admonition to love. When you feel hate and persecution, you should move away from defensiveness and move toward offensively loving the other. Your position should not be to get even, but to love them. Your desire should not be to benefit yourself, but to love them by putting their interest before yours, so that they can see Christ in you. These words are easier said than done. So how do you love in the face of adversity when life shows you that most people do not naturally respond this way? You allow love to win over hate by developing an intimate relationship with Jesus that allows your life to become fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to cultivate not only love, but also the full spectrum of the fruit of the Spirit.  Paul describes this in Colossians 2:6-7 when he says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”  Your intimacy and walk with Christ is strengthened when you constantly read the Word and frequently commune with God through prayer and meditation. Jesus instructed this in John 8:31-32 when He said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Go deep into God, so that He can not only love others through you, but also touch their lives!  
 
1 John 4:4 “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (NIV)

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