“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

Last week, my good friend shared with me how hurt she was over a comment someone had made to her. It was not sensitive and was out of the mouth of someone who was probably exhausted from a circumstance in their life. I think he acted out of what many of us sometimes do – that is thinking we need to give an answer for a situation. The best gift, and often the most helpful, is focused attentive listening.

Some of my thoughts are gleaned from a devotion book by a local minister, Tommy Hayes. I could whole heartily agree when he wrote “Relationship is risky and requires effort. To love one another means we must work at bearing with one another. None of this comes easy.”

John 15:12 actually commands us to love each other. It has been helpful to me to learn that while we are to love each other we are not required to like everyone. Some people are more likeable than others. Many of us are “walking wounded” from life experiences that we have allowed to continue to define who we are. That can make us “touchy” to deal with.

We must risk relationships, painful though they are at times, as we make ourselves vulnerable to others. I have finally come to see that these challenges give me an opportunity to let the life of Jesus be formed more perfectly in me. This happens if I do not take the “bait “of Satan and react out of my flesh. Actually we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude to the person who hurt us as they have provided this opportunity to grow in our godly reactions and not take offense. We can view it like a spiritual exercise to strengthen our inner man/woman.

© Peggy Park

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