Good morning everyone!!
How are you today? Inspired to have a really good day today? I pray that for you today.
Now, I have a question for you today:
Have you ever found yourself forcing a smile and being falsely friendly in conversation with someone you just didn’t like? Have you ever had a friend you were only friends with because of the benefits that friendship gave you?
I’ve been thinking about that today. I can remember a few instances of doing that when I was a teen, but what about since I became an adult? Hmmm…
I read this verse today which got me to thinking:
Romans 12:9-10 (2 different translations below)
(NLT) "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other."
(NASB) – “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;”
Hmmm…don’t just pretend to love others? Have I been guilty of that – pretending to like someone, being false or fake with them – even being hypocritical in my friendship with them? Yikes – sounds terrible! But - oh no -For whatever reasons, yes - I know I have been, and probably more than I realize. Drat!
How about you? Have you done that before?
Well…unfortunately, we probably ALL have pretended to like or love someone at one time or another, for many different reasons, right? (and most likely none of them good) Although I can truthfully say that there are very few times I have ever felt true hatred for someone. But I certainly have hated behaviors of some people – even friends and family! And yes, even of myself (ugggh- sometimes over and over again!). But note there is a difference – between hating the behavior and hating the person.
But do you think there is a difference between being nice to someone you have a hard time liking, and pretending to like or love them? Hmmm…this gives me pause to think on my own thoughts and actions. (oh flip-flop goes my tummy)
Conclusion: yes, I believe there is a difference; a difference which breaks down to intentions - what are the intentions of my heart.
Growing up my mother taught my siblings and I that if we couldn’t say something nice about someone, well then don’t say anything at all. This taught me to always look for the good in a person and don’t dwell on the bad, (really hard to do sometimes, I know) so that I wouldn’t have to be quiet. And, in so doing, my intentions became to find the good in people, even when I didn’t like them or thought negative things about them. This I find is good, because it is real, not pretending.
Now, I realize every single person on this earth has some good in them, somewhere, even if it is hidden way down deep, covered over with layers and layers of spider webs (wrong, evil)! Yes – they do, WE do. Until the day we die, every single one of us has the potential to turn our lives around, reject or clear out the spider webs (wrong, evil) and choose to do and be good. This fact challenges my mind to believe it applies to some more notorious historical figures of crime and atrocities – but it is true nonetheless. Every one of us has free will to choose what we will and will not do, no matter how hard it might be. The difference in making that choice seems to boil down to how we are talked to and treated by others.
Think about it - If no one will encourage us or love us authentically (genuine affection, brotherly love), if people just pretend to like us (for whatever reason) or judge and deem us unworthy of love or wholly unlovable, then there doesn’t seem to be much incentive or inspiration to change for the good and to turn our behavior or lives around. Right?
And – on another thought – we never know completely what is going on inside another’s mind or heart, right? We may see someone who on the outside is physically well put together, beautiful, outgoing, cheery, smart and successful, seemingly everything going good for them. But, on the inside, is this how they view themselves? Inside, maybe they see themselves as too fat, too skinny, too ugly, too dumb. Maybe they are struggling with guilt over something they did, making them feel unworthy of love or being loved. (I don’t know about you, but I find myself struggling like that more often than I’d like. Fortunately for me, I have a great family and support system who love me unconditionally and won’t allow me to stay long in those kinds of feelings.) But maybe this person is just putting up a false front, hiding all their hurt inside. Think with me for a moment - if we just tolerate this person or pretend to like them, being friendly with them while we are around them, (maybe we are envious or jealous of them, or hurt from something they’ve done, or our personalities clash) chances are slim that we will ever know they are struggling and hurting inside.
If no one takes the time to care about them enough – or have enough genuine affection or brotherly love for them, they may feel they are hopeless. They may live their lives out unhappy, without love, and without giving love in return – depriving themselves and the world of the special gifts they have to give. Or they may even decide life is not worth living. Think a moment about this:
How many tragic suicides are there each day by those who feel hopeless because no one took the time to care enough or love them truly enough to see the pain hiding in their hearts?
So…joyfully today I set a new purpose in my heart – to feel and give genuine affection and brotherly love to everyone I come in contact with. No more pretending or even just tolerating! I will find the good and dwell on that good instead of the bad or negative I might see or know.
My prayer for today will be:
Dear Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to see your Word and coming to the understanding of how to practically apply this Word to my daily living. Please help me to love my fellow man with the love You have for them. When I find it difficult, please place Your perfect and real love for them into my heart. Help me be kind and compassionate, to love deeply enough to truly see, and to hold onto what is good. Help me to be real. Thank you God. Amen.