. . . in each of our lives is what is valuable.  Being transparent about what is going on is the basis of genuine fellowship.  We connect with other believers around shared experiences of spiritual progress.  So here is mine  (please send me / us yours). 

Growing   We are growing spiritually through praying down love for four men who have been difficult for us.  It seems our Lord allows us to need to forgive some people as a way of helping us appreciate what it cost Him to forgive us. 

Asking   We have been earnestly asking God to put love in our minds for one especially difficult chap.  In late autumn, 2019 this Diotrephes (3 John 9) phoned the Action office to tell the U.S.A. Director what a divisive, stubborn person I am.   He also engineered the ceasing of our support from our home church – and it was a big amount.  Now do you understand why we/I need to pray down some love?  I am incapable of loving this man. But God can love him through me or in spite of me. 

Providence and Diotrephes  In answer to our praying, God has been working.  Here’s how.  Last week, I learned Diotrephes was driving to Ann Arbor (a distance of about 45 miles one-way) to pick up an older man, and bring him to church, then take him home afterwards. I can admire that. Appreciate that. Dwell on that.

On Sunday, December 22,  Diotrephes brought an older person into church, and assisted him to be seated. In the providence of God, I was seated five feet away and couldn’t help but see his effort. Then he asked the older man, “Do you want to elevate your feet?”  When the gentleman answered, Yes,” this man knelt down on one knee, and lifted his feet up on to a chair.  Again, I said to myself, “This is commendable service for Christ which I can respect and be grateful for.” So God is helping me to see some good things in this brother’s life to think about (Phil 4:8).   Little victories,  little advances. A slow melting of our animosity.

Amazed at Our Lord  The Holy Spirit is challenging me to not answer back, not point out things in his own life which seem worse than what he has against me  (I did violate a church policy by asking for funding for Cuba so he is correct on that). Believe me, it is a long story.

I am seeking to hold in my mind the astounding self-control of our Lord Jesus Christ as seen in I Peter 2:23-24 which says:

                         When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not
                         retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats.
                         Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him to judges

I believe the Holy Spirit has put before me an absolute requirement that I not correct Diotrephes or defend myself (The Spirit may not do that with you).   The issue is, “Do we have the faith in God about what He is allowing into our lives?”  

Bitterness[1]  (Hebrews 12:15) is a faith issue.  Some Christians get bitter because they do not know how God could allow such hardship, such injustice, such evil to thrive against them.  We can fail to believe (1) God does indeed love us in spite of the circumstances (Psalms 37:1, 7 and 6)  or (2) that God can and will bring correction eventually  (if He thinks we are right and the other guy is wrong) as Romans 12:14-21 promises.  It is a faith issue – do we believe His Word?  Most of the time I do, but sometimes I want to strike the rock (Numbers 20:9-12;  exert self-will) instead of yielding.

In This Together   In all likelihood anyone reading this far in this article also wrestles to hold their tongue and sanctify to their own hearts this interior war (Romans 7:23).    

Let’s grow together by wanting God’s glory more than wanting Diotrephes to get his come-up-ence.   God can love difficult people through us  (Yes, that is a mystery to me, but that is taught as Biblical)

Please send me a note about how you are growing. 

[1]  Bitterness is like lighting yourself on fire and hoping the smoke gets in the eyes of the offending person.