Keys to the Kingdom
In 1992, I became close friends with Shardel and Misty through a mothers’ group when all three of our little boys were two years old. Later in the mid-90s, both families moved away from Fort Scott. Last summer I had the joy of hosting a weekend reunion at my home with these dear and treasured girlfriends. Even though we had lived apart many years, our souls were still knit together. As we visited, laughed, cried, ate scratch brownie batter, and simply picked up where we left off, I said something like, ”I’m not who I used to be; I’ve changed. My heart is softer and I’m not so judgmental and opinionated.” During those 27 years of separation, I learned (am still learning) what it means to love others like Jesus does. What a difference choosing a mindset of love has made in my life!
Practicing love is not based on a feeling, but rather a decision to humbly obey God’s Word. When Jesus’ crucifixion was near, He shared many directives to His disciples. “Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for Me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples” (John 13:33-35 NLT). Jesus’ command requires believers to take the necessary steps to love others. We simply put one foot in front of the other and begin hoofing the uphill climb.
To walk in love requires effort on our part — we have to work at it. Being a doer of love costs something, whether it’s our time, money, pride, or opinions. A good question to ask ourselves is: “Are my wounded feelings and stubborn opinions more important than the person and my relationship with him/her?” Speaking from emotions in the heat of the moment can undo a lifetime of closeness. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NLT). Being right is highly overrated, and having peaceful relationships is highly underrated. Peace is like a soothing essential oil for the soul.
Loving others is a daily decision that’s practiced on purpose — and it’s not always easy. Sometimes the stepping stones to love are a little too far apart and it’s a stretch for us. But let’s think past the upsetting circumstance and ask ourselves: “Am I loving others in a way that I‘ll have no regrets later on?” We must live in the light of Jesus as we climb every mountain in love. “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT).
Because Christ lives in believers, we are more than able to do what is required of us. “…Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other“ (Colossians 3:12-15 MSG).
The Key: Love is an uphill climb one step at a time.