If you are struggling this Valentine’s Day with feeling love towards a spouse, a parent, an adult child or grandparent, think about what you can do to repair that relationship and move things forward. You can’t control what others do, how they behave or what they say, but you can control your response.
One of the biggest challenges in Scripture is Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Not only are these difficult words to live out, but counter-cultural.
Honestly, it is not easy to love your enemies or bless those who curse you. Both require a great deal of heart work and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Our natural response to lost love is anything but blessing.
So in this season of love, take a look at your family relationships. Forgive and love generously. Remember, as you choose to forgive, bless and do good, this does not mean you condone negative behavior, are minimizing hurt or denying problems. It means you have decided to follow the words of Christ and do what does not come naturally to most of us. Our model is Christ. He was despised, rejected, and abused. Yet, he had compassion and loved the unlovely. What a challenge!
As you encounter family members who are not always so loving, try these suggestions:
- Make attempts to resolve issues that have built up and caused resentment. Avoidance just leads to anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness.
- Remember the good moments in your relationship. Do not deny problems, but balance negatives with positives.
- Do something enjoyable together in order to build positive memories.
- Control your tongue. It has the power of life and death according to the Book of James.
- Pray for those who irritate you. Ask God to give you His heart when it comes to them.
- Love people as yourself.
- Consider the biblical principle—what you sow, you reap (Galatians 6:7).
- Forgive often and do not hold on to offense.
- God’s grace is a gift; offer it to others as well.
- Read I Corinthians 13 as a true reminder of love. Love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, keeps no records of wrong, hopes and never fails. (v. 4-7)