By Pastor Mark Erskine
It is our desire to be a family that loves and follows the living God. We want to love you not just in words but in active obedience to what you call us to each and every day. We are a work in progress and we understand that we fall short of the perfect intentions that made up the life of Jesus. As we work toward that goal, would you:
• Grant to us acceptance. Acceptance helps us feel loved for the person we are. Help us to appreciate and celebrate our differences because you are a creative God who has made us different! It is our differences that help us appreciate how creative you are! Thank you Lord that none of us are alike. We each have a different gift that brings value to this family.
• Give us listening hearts for each other. When we talk to each other help us to listen for the heart of the person speaking. Help us to look past the words and to discern the motivation of the heart. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to get angry at each other. May we think the best always, giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
• Give us loving words that build each other up. Convict us of harsh words that tear away at our self-esteem and self-confidence. When there is conflict may the words of truth we speak be saturated in love and bathed in prayer before they ever leave our lips. Our words hold the power to encourage, build up or destroy! Give us loving words for each other that build unity and strength. Remove words of accusation and condemnation from our lips and replace them with words of affirmation and unconditional love. Lord help us to never put each other down in order to elevate ourselves or make ourselves look better than one another. We are all important: may we use only loving words.
• Give us forgiving spirits. May we choose forgiveness in the face of hurt feelings; grant us the power to forgive others as Christ forgave us. The people that love us best have the power to wound us the deepest. Help us to remember that we also hold the power to wound those that we love the most.
• Grant us the courage to forgive. Grant our hearts the forgiveness that we will need from each other in the future. Even with perfect motives we will hurt each other; may we not do it intentionally. From hurt grows anger, from anger grows resentment, from resentment grows hatred; and hatred is like an aggressive cancer that soon kills the spiritual soul. Forgiveness is the cure to this disease of the heart. May our spiritual medicine cabinet be full to overflowing with forgiveness and may we use it with abandon.
• Enable us to always choose grace over justice. Why is it Lord that we seek your grace for our sin and our justice for others? If we are right and have no relationship with each other; of what value is it to be right? May our pride never trump our relationship with each other. As we experience your daily grace in our lives may we display that same kind of grace towards each other.
The kind of love described by Paul in I Corinthians 13 is not about being “in love” but it is about love being in us. We must first experience your love before we can even begin to love each other. May our love begin with the “love we’ve waited for” being in us. May your love in us be the thing that defines who we are and may it become our legacy.
Mark Erskine is pastor of Grove City Nazarene Church.