There's no doubt this is why I spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. It's why I turn the radio up when I'm driving. It's why I want to sleep every chance I get (which isn't much), or immerse myself in my kids' activities. Because when there's silence, I'm required to think about where I am. When there's noise and distraction, I don't have to address what's going on in my head and heart.
But, it's time for quiet. It's time to take a look at the status of my heart. And when I do, clarity comes.
The fact is, I don't love people.
Aside from loving Him, it's God's greatest commandment. But I don't do it.
Sure, I love people who are easy to love. If you're kind, see things just like I do, and never do anything that's too far from how I would do it, chances are I'll reciprocate kindness and love. But, if you're difficult to love -- if your actions are questionable, you're not perfectly nice, or you rub me the wrong way -- I'll probably judge you. You may never know it, but I'll question your motives, and I'll wonder why you're not just like me. I may even complain about you to my husband, sister, and/or closest friends. I'll raise myself up, and place you where I've decided you belong -- beneath me.
Oh the ridiculousness. Oh the sin.
Have you ever noticed how many versus in the Bible talk about love? A lot.
"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Leviticus 19:18
"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." Proverbs 10:12
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Mathew 22: 37-39
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart," 1 Peter 1:22
"And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us." 1 John 3:23
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." 1 John 4: 7-12
"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother who he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." 1 John 4: 19-21
As I read these versus today, I'm even more convinced that loving people -- even if they don't act and think like me -- is a big deal to God. I'm also convinced that this "feeling" I've experienced is a direct result of being outside of God's will for my life. I'm not called to judge, I'm called to offer grace and to love.
So my prayer today is that I would begin love God with all my heart, and as a result of that love that I would offer grace and love to the people around me -- regardless of whether they meet my expectations.