Perception is everything when it comes to the way we interact with people and respond to situations. It can mean the difference between doing well and total failure in the way we treat others and handle circumstances. That perception begins with yourself, as it does affect how you treat others. A simple example would be those who love themselves less, love others less. Without the proper love for yourself, your capacity to love others well is minimized. If you don’t love yourself the way God loves you, you will struggle to freely loves others. That being said, it is good to allow Holy Spirit to reveal why you reject love. Why do you place so little value on yourself; even though God highly values you. If you receive the love of God and place value on yourself as He does, you will be positioned to love well. Okay, enough about you and me. It is time to get outward focused, because love is not selfish. How can we better love others? How do we diffuse heated situations? Become very outward focused!
Step one: decide to walk in love and not be easily offended (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Step two, and this can be a little tricky sometimes: using love as your filter, be more concerned about another’s spiritual condition than you are about his or her attitude and behavior towards you. Sometimes, behavior and attitude is an indicator of what’s going on inside –sometimes. Obviously, if we offended someone, he or she probably won’t be very cordial. Of course, if we know this is the case, we should make amends if possible. We ask for forgiveness for his or her sake. The idea is that we want others to release us or no longer hold a grudge, so they can move in life. It is not about “getting off the hook;” it’s about restoration. There are times people will be offended simply because Jesus offends them (see Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; John 15:18-21). In which case we have nothing for which to ask forgiveness. We simply love and treat them well. Luke 6:27-28 But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Being aware of where people are in life or in the moment helps us interact with them more effectively. That doesn’t mean we become a bunch of psychologists seeking to psychoanalyze others; rather, we allow Holy Spirit to give us the proper discernment at the proper time. Along with that, let Him lead us in what to do or say –if anything.
We cannot afford to be offended at someone’s worldview or belief system if it differs from ours. If, for example, someone says he’s an atheist, don’t be offended. At the same time, you don’t have to try to convince him God exists and He absolutely loves him. Loving him well will plant that seed. Have compassion! Living a life as an atheist is a life without hope. Pray for him! Holding others’ bad attitude against them will not help them along in life. That attitude is a symptom of what’s in their heart. People are hurting. They’re angry, depressed, broken and in bondage. They need love –they need Jesus! Can you and I be Jesus to them? If we get bent out shape because of their behavior, we won’t be. The reason we can be Jesus to others is because He lives in us. By submitting to Holy Spirit, we can absolutely reveal Jesus to them.
Jesus is concerned with what’s going on with people. He deeply cares for them. He laid His life down for them. He laid His life down for you. John 15:12-13 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. Maturity goes beyond looking after its own needs, it looks to the needs of others. A way to discern where you are spiritually in terms of maturation is how well you love others. If we cannot even consider another’s point of view, at least from the standpoint of understanding where he’s coming from, we have some growing to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to agree with him; but it does mean we have to love him regardless. Since Jesus said love your enemies, it means we have to love everybody, and that includes those with whom we may disagree. Our call is to walk in the unity of the Spirit, which means our goal is to love others as He does. Perhaps, if we sought to love rather than be loved and to understand than to be understood, we would have a greater impact for the Kingdom. Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.