S78P4 – Laid on the altar: our feelings

Luke 6:35

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Perhaps my expectations had been a little too high, but I thought that working in a team of professionals actually would be productive teamwork.  It just never occurred to me that serious personality conflicts might arise which could jeopardize our work.  At first I did not know how to take some of the things she said or the ways she treated me.  I simply was not used to a teammate treating me like an opponent. It was a time of testing and learning, a time during which I had to realize what my priorities were.  The goals were to get our work done well and to be Jesus to her even if she treated me badly, and the only way to accomplish those goals was to ignore offense and still walk in love.

Our emotions are real, valid and worth exploring.  There is a reason God made us beings who are able to feel.  Our problem is not that we have emotions but that we sometimes mismanage them.  When Jesus tells us to love our enemies He is instructing us first and foremost to put our feelings aside.  He wants us to behave in a way that is the opposite of how conflict makes us feel.  When the enemy gives us hate, we return love.  When the enemy tries to make us angry, we return peace.  The only way we can do that is to know what the priority is.  We want to be a bridge between our enemies and our Lord.  We want to be an example of his grace and mercy toward the wicked.  After all, He sacrificed himself for us when we were still his enemies.

Jesus had to put his feelings aside to offer up himself as a sacrifice for us.  We brought him pain, but He brings us healing.  We deserved death, but He gives us life.  Our entire existence rests on him, but He put himself and his nobility aside for us.  He descended to the valley so that we could ascend to the mountaintop.  We cannot walk in even a measure of his mercy and grace unless we put our emotions on the altar of sacrifice so that they no longer determine how we think, speak and act. Let us instead allow God’s love to determine that.  Father, increase our love for our enemies that we would display your grace and mercy and not act out of anger or offense.