Review once again the action plan for learning to love those we cannot stand:
- Bless, do not curse
- Walk a mile in their shoes
- Never take revenge
- Plan something beautiful in the sight of all
- Win the peace
In this session we move on to the second to last step of our plan.
One of the feelings we have when we are crossways with someone for whatever reason is a sense of helplessness. The fact that you are not in control of a situation that is causing a lot of stress can be quite frustrating. The thought that you are making an effort to resolve the issue, lying awake at night thinking about the dispute and may even be taking a class at church to help you gain insight about the matter... and they are not, only makes matters worse!
As Christians it is natural for us to want resolution to personal conflict. We feel badly if we hate someone, we want peace and love, and find it difficult if the other person does not want to cooperate, or care, and may even be oblivious to us and our emotions. The helplessness and frustration we feel at this point brings us to the 6th step in the process of loving someone we can't stand:
Make Room for God – Romans 12:19
Much of our angst over these types of situations usually stems from the fact that we have tried to solve or deal with the problem our way, or by ourselves. Paul says that in a negotiation for peace with our enemy we must "make room for God." In other words, we have to bring God to the bargaining table. Many times our failure to make things work out is simply a sign from God to move over and allow Him to work on our behalf. Or, if we have already asked God to help, then we must let Him do His work by obeying the part He wants us to do, whatever that may be.
There are several reasons why "making room for God" makes a difference:
- God Judges Perfectly: Regardless of our best intentions, we never know the motives and details of a person's life to the degree that God does. For example, we do not know what level of punishment our enemy deserves (we might judge too harshly or too softly) but God's judgement is true. We experience peace when we turn over the judging to God because we know that it will be sure and fair.
- God Cares Perfectly: In as much as God cares for our enemy in providing a sure and fair judgement, God also cares for us. God cares that we are hurt, angry, frustrated and He wants to minister to us, if we allow Him to do so. God wants to be involved because He cares for us. The worst result of a conflict is that the hatred of our enemy can easily draw us away from God who cares for us.
- God Heals Perfectly: God has many names and for this reason the people of the Old Testament referred to Him in multiple ways indicating the many facets of His character and power. One name used for Him in Exodus 15:25-26 was "Yahweh Rapma", The Lord Who Heals. God is the Lord who heals broken bodies, broken spirits and even broken relationships. Does it take any less faith to believe that He can as easily heal a broken relationship as heal a blind man?
The author of my resource book says that when a relationship is broken it is more than just a relationship that is broken, it is part of you that is broken as well. Before healing the relationship, God must first heal you, and He can. If you can be healed, there is a good chance that the relationship can be healed as well. If the relationship does not respond to God's touch, then at least you, yourself, walk away as a whole person.
When you allow God into the relationship:
- He will judge rightly
- He will take the burden upon Himself
- He will heal you, and together with you, minister the good you are trying to offer to your enemy
The best case scenario is that there will be peace between God, yourself and your enemy. The worst case scenario will be that there will be peace between you and your Lord.
Once you have tamed your tongue, tried to understand, resisted revenge, planned to do good, aimed at peace, you need to bring the Lord into the battle of loving your enemy.
- Summarize your feelings about your enemy in one word only, then elaborate on that one word. Each share in turn.
- If you were permitted to judge your antagonist, what would the judgement and punishment be?
- How has God dealt with a specific failure in your life? Open discussion.
- What form will "making room for God" take in your situation? Open Discussion.