Be Kind to All

“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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV) 

‘’You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves. This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, MSG) 

Yesterday, the message delivered by one of the pastors at our church, resonated so clearly with me. (Link here, if you wish to listen.) His message mirrored the cry of my heart and what I have felt compelled to and ascertain to accomplish, for as long as I can recall. The bottom line is to love as God loves us. That means EVERYONE! Does this mean that I am successful every minute of every day? No. However, I am ever seeking to learn and grow and be established and rooted more deeply in Christ, so that I may do and be better each day. This is the reason that I refuse to engage in political banter on social media. When it is words being spewed into the oblivion, it seems to get really ugly, really rapidly. There is no capacity to see and hear the heart of the “speaker”, therefore it becomes a matter of attempting to prove why one’s own position is right, and the other is wrong. Kindness and love fall away, and what we are called to do, is far from done. We are not called to attempt to prove why our thinking is right and the other person’s is wrong. We are called to LOVE. Period. End statement. Love acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly. (Micah 6:8) Love is patient, kind, protective, honest, full of hope, and always perseveres. Love does not envy, boast, dishonor others, have a “me-first” attitude, is not easily angered, and does not keep record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Jesus loved the sinners and the saints; shared meals with both the despised and the embraced, and He shared much with the masses. He helped, He healed, He accepted, and He loved. What Jesus did, is what we are called to do. Our charge, as children of the Almighty God, is to LOVE. No matter who it is or what circumstances surround us, we must be kind and figure out how to love. Incredibly, when we ask and actually listen for answers, He will teach and equip us to love as He is calling us to love. Every act of kindness is an investment in others. As we sow love and kindness and generosity, God works in the hearts of those who receive. We are not called to preach at people, but rather we are called to love as Jesus loved. If we do so, according to His call, hearts can be changed and minds renewed. May we seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us each day, so that we may go forth and love one another according to His good and perfect will. 

We are not just called, 

To love those who love; 

But also, those who, 

Challenge us above. 

Jesus has shown us, 

To love enemies; 

For as we choose to, 

Both sides are set free. 

Set free from anger, 

From ugly dissent; 

For kindness disarms, 

Leads us to repent. 

Lord teach us to see, 

Others with Your love; 

To live as You lived, 

Give kindness above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip and empower every willing heart to love as You loved, as we earnestly seek You. Forgive us for the times that our words or deeds did not reflect a love like Yours. Teach us to love both friend and foe in the same way that You love each of us. Show us what it means to love like You, and how to be kind and loving, even to those who make it difficult. May hearts be changed and relationships mended, as we seek to love ALL, as You love us; and may many come into a lasting relationship with You, the One who loves forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow us in Your love for others. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Resist Revenge and Do Good

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. – (1 Thessalonians 5:15, NIV) 

Be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong. But always try to do what is good for each other and for all people. – (1 Thessalonians 5:15, ERV) 

Resist revenge, and make sure that no one pays back evil in place of evil but always pursue doing what is beautiful to one another and to all the unbelievers. – (1 Thessalonians 5:15, TPT) 

We are living in some seriously crazy times. After months of staying at home, and countless individuals attempting to survive without an income, unrest was lying dormant, ready to blow. Then, atrocities against humanity, caught on video and shared nationwide, were the fuel that sparked the already burning embers of desperation and despair. It is difficult to differentiate the peaceful protest that is taking place, from the rioting, looting and growing violence. Peaceful protest is not paying back wrong for wrong, but rather is a way to take a stand for what is good and right, in a way that grabs the attention of those who need to hear. Sadly, the angst that already existed, has been fueled in such a way, that people want to repay wrongs with wrongs. Our nation’s cities are on fire. In attempt to demand justice, anarchy is becoming intertwined with standing for what is right. How can we do good for all and bring an end to the chaos? I don’t know the solution, but I do know where I turn. God is good and just and kind. His love and compassion for people is incomparable.  Lord, help us all. We need peace and solutions and justice. Chaos cannot reign. Returning to life as we knew it seems elusive and far off. Clearly there are some aspects of what we knew that need to change, but our freedom to work, be out, see family and friends, worship together – these things are the very fabric of what weaves our hearts together and settles the unsettled spaces. All I know is to pray and to choose to do good, even when revenge feels justified. May we, as a nation, seek to do what is good and right, so that justice may reign, and the felt need for repaying those who do harm with harm that ravages our cities, ends. 

Lord, to You we come, 

Bowed heads, bended knee; 

May righteousness reign, 

O God, hear our plea. 

Forgive the ugly, 

And make right the wrongs; 

Help us to rise up, 

United and strong. 

Bring Your true justice, 

Restore, make things right; 

Let Your love lead us, 

To peaceably fight. 

Examine our hearts, 

Show us where to change; 

Let all be in love, 

We pray in Your Name. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in the midst of ugliness, injustice and unrest, You still reign. Thank You that You can bring hope and healing and wholeness to our communities and cities and nation. Forgive us for our desire to repay evil with evil. Teach us to strive what is good for one another, ever choosing to love first. Show us how to love one another as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we resist revenge and seek to do good. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:18

Where Treasure Lies

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – (Luke 12:34, NIV)

Your heart will be where your treasure is. – (Luke 12:34, ERV)

Where you deposit your treasure, that is where your thoughts will turn to – and your heart will long to be there also. – (Luke 12:34, TPT)

 

My heart, as I have discovered more deeply than ever before, is for God and people. Each morning, my priority continues to be to seek the Lord and spend time in His word to set the tone for the day. What I miss most in this time of “stay at home”, is the ability to get out and be with people whom I enjoy most. I think many of us took for granted, and we are now finding out, how much we truly treasure the luxury of navigating a “normal” day among a vast array of individuals. My time with my husband and children has been really good, and I am grateful for the time together that would likely not have occurred otherwise; yet I struggle with the sedentary staying in place, when I am accustomed to walking about campus before school, during my planning, at lunch, and when the school day closes. Each walk about would result in friendly exchanges with different staff members and students, that I value and enjoyed each day. Now, I am often seated in silence for hours at a time, as I attempt to navigate the new, eagerly waiting for the next collaborative Zoom meeting, so that I will see and work together with my friends and colleagues. My boys are present in my work space with me until their work for the day is complete, then they disappear to do their own thing, while the other two members of our household are essential workers, and spend their days away from home. All this to say, though I was intentional most of the time to say hello or at least smile and wave to people as I passed by, I imagine that I will treasure the freedom to do so all the more when the stay at home orders are lifted. In the meantime, I will look for ways to reach out and connect with people as they come to mind, and continue to lean on the Lord for strength and sanity. May we all place our treasure in the gifts of people whom God has given us, and in the Giver Himself.

 

May we seek treasure, Love Made Known

Things of the most worth;

Not things, but people,

Greatest gifts on earth.

Love God and people,

The greatest command;

Purpose intended,

What the Lord had planned.

For what we value,

Where our hearts are found;

Let’s choose what matters,

So good may abound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us where our treasures lie, as we look at what has our time, attention and affection. Thank You that You treasure people first, and show us how to do the same. Forgive us for the times that our priorities get out of order, and we set aside what matters most. Teach us to seek You first in all things, so that we may live and love according to Your perfect plan. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and grace tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You first so that we may love You and love those around us in the same way that You love us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

Love Fulfills the Law

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, NIV)

The law says, “You must not commit adultery, you must not murder anyone, you must not steal, you must not want what belongs to someone else.” All these commands and all other commands are really only one rule: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” Love doesn’t hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, ERV)

For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” and every other commandment can be summed up in these words: “Love and value others the same way you love and value yourself.” Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfills all that the law requires. – (Romans 13:9-10, TPT)

 

This really sums up so much. Our charge, our call, our purpose, above all else, is to LOVE. If we truly love as God intended, we are obeying and honoring God, and showing the world what love really means. The “Golden Rule” is similarly based on this sort of love. To do unto others as we want done unto us, is the same as loving our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t that what everyone ultimately desires? To love and be loved in return? It is no surprise that the longing within us aligns with the intent and purpose for which we were created. It is the most difficult to love when the recipient of our choice to love does not do the same in return. However, we are called to love anyway. Often, the repeated extension of kindness breaks down the barriers that are blocking another from receiving or giving love. Once they begin to see, know and understand that it is genuine, they become more willing to receive and return what is given. May we ever choose to love others as we desire to be loved; for this is what we are called and commanded to do.

 

Choose love each other, Ambassadors of Love

As we’d like love back;

For this is our charge,

To do as God asks.

All those whom we meet,

Are neighbors indeed;

Ready for kindness,

Love’s a human need.

Each time that we choose,

To give love away;

We’re following God,

For love is His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Thank You that You do not just command it, but You have shown us again and again what it is to love. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You would want us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend kindness, mercy and grace, even in the face of adversity and ugliness. Show us how to love all of those You have placed around us in ways that make Your heart tangible to them, individually. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love others as You call us to love. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34