“Hatred stirs up troubles; but love overlooks the wrongs others do.”
Proverbs 10:12

Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:

  • This passage from the Book of Proverbs is part of the chapter sometimes titled, “The Wise Child.” It offers much wisdom on how we can conduct ourselves in a sometimes chaotic and conflicted world.
  • The Book of Proverbs is treasured because it teaches us how to develop a spiritually mature, emotionally healthy character. Imagine it as an ancient “Do-This-Not-That” compendium still applicable in our 21st century lives.
  • Love is an element of Advent, the contemplative season which prepares us for Christmas. But even if Advent isn’t part of our spiritual practice, most of us love feeling loved and sharing our love with others.
  • Love is the capacity within us to care about (and sometimes care for) and connect with others.We demonstrate love in our demeanor, words, and actions, especially as we empathize and overlook others’ shortcomings.
  • In its greatest expression, love beholds the Presence of God within all humanity.
  • One of the greatest examples of love is the Master Teacher, Wayshower, Jesus the Christ, the one whose birth in a manger we celebrate on Christmas.
  • Jesus has the profound ability to overlook faults, counsel with compassion, and listen beyond words and behaviors.
  • Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann reminds us, in her 1986 book, Love-Powered Living, that Jesus “projected God’s love . . . with a real, living, universal love for God, himself and his fellow person.”
  • So that we can love as we imagine Jesus did, Rev. Hausmann advises: “It is a great undertaking to seek to live a completely love-powered life. But it can be done. . . . To start, do not look at the magnitude of the task, but begin where you are.”

Contemplation Questions:

As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:

  • What troubles am I experiencing?
    • Without any analysis or judgment, breathe deeply, and list, word map, or illustrate whatever they are.
    • Then, put them in order, from smallest to largest.
  • When I imagine these troubles being resolved, beginning with the smallest one first:
    • What do I want to happen?
      • List, word map, or illustrate exactly what you want.
    • What “wrongs” am I willing to overlook?
      • List, word map, or illustrate what they are.
    • What can I do to listen more and judge less?
      • List, word map, or illustrate how you can listen openly and completely, and release judgments.
    • How could I have more empathy?
      • List, word map, or illustrate what you can do to empathize.
    • What other actions am I willing to take?
      • Beginning from smallest to largest, list, word map, or illustrate everything you are willing to do to resolve your part of any troubles.
  • In what ways can I listen for and be more attuned to God’s love, so I feel it more fully myself?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all you can imagine.
  • In what ways can I listen for and be more attuned to the love others around me seek, so I am focused on love, rather than on troubles?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all you can imagine.
  • In what ways I am willing to be a loving presence in my home, workplace, and/or community?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all the ways you can imagine.
  • Which people need my loving presence the most?
    • List, word map, or illustrate who they are.
    • Then, starting with the smallest task, note what you can do to share your love with each of them.

As you work with this devotional, especially as you purchase, wrap, and exchange gifts, focus on the love embodied in the gift and the ways you can express love by listening, empathizing, and forgiving.  Know as you do that none of this means you approve of or agree with another’s choices or behaviors.  Rather, you are loving them because you, as Jesus did, are choosing to behold the Presence of God within them.  And that may be the greatest gift you will ever give.

© 2021 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

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