When my father-in-law hugs me goodbye, he always says, “Be sweet.” This year I’m taking his advice to heart. 2014 was a rough year, and I learned a ton. I’ve learned you can’t harbor bitterness when others inadvertently hurt you. Friend, it’s the pits to be in the middle of a problem you didn’t start! It’s even worse to be considered collateral damage—that your relationship with those involved is easily disposed of in the midst of the turmoil. I found myself in three situations like this, and it made for a bitter year.
I’m not a bitter person. I can’t carry this sort of pain. It has come out in my life in ways I’m ashamed of. I’ve asked God to forgive me. I’ve purposed in my heart to replace the bitterness with sweetness the way Paul tells the Roman Christians to be sweet. He says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10).” He uses two words for love here. He says, “Be philostorgos (that is, be tenderly affectionate, like a parent toward a child)…with philadelphia (that is, the love you have for a brother or sister)…” While I love my spiritual family and my extended family, I have not loved them with the care and gentleness Paul expresses in this passage. I’ve asked God to help me to lift up my brothers and sisters. I want to be intent on finding the beauty and goodness in those I love the most. I’ve made some action points to help me focus on what I think I’m most lacking. I call them my
Six Proofs of Brotherly Love
1. I will speak positive words to affirm you.
2. I will hear you out before I speak.
3. I will encourage and praise your godly ways, your good deeds, and your talents and abilities.
4. I will be proud of you and your accomplishments.
5. I will value your thoughts and opinions, and try to agree.
6. I will positively influence others toward you.
This is going up so I can see it every morning and be reminded of my attitude.
What are you doing this year to make your life sweeter?