Stop worrying. Be happy. Rejoice. Love your enemies. Those are just of the many admonitions found in the Bible about which preachers often preach. However, it is far easier to tell a person what he should do than it is to tell him exactly how he is to do it.

When I tell a person to stop worrying because it is a sin, he may respond, “I know it. That is what worries me the most.” If I tell a person, “Love your enemies,” he may reply, “It is hard enough to love my friends. I do not know how I can love my enemies.”

There are at least two values in quoting these commandments directly from the Bible. First, we need to impress upon those who hear that they are not merely good suggestions or advice, but commands of God. Second, with the command, we often find hints or directions about how to accomplish the command.

For example, in Matthew 6:25-34 when Jesus is telling us not to worry, He tells us in verse 26 that the heavenly Father feeds the birds, and values us more than He does them. Meditating on that fact will help us to obey the command. Then in verse 27, he says, “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?” He indicates that worry is useless, for it accomplishes nothing. Keen awareness of that may help us to stop it, as we put our minds on ways to solve whatever problem that confronts us instead of worrying about it. Then the specific promise of verse 33, if believed, will automatically decrease our worry, for he says, “But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Those things may help me to overcome worrying, but how can I actually be happy and rejoice when my health is bad, my bones ache, or my children are on drugs or in jail, my insurance company has gone broke and I do not know how my bills are going to be paid? Much of the problem will be solved when we learn not to worry, but we still may need to have some other information or specific rules to learn to rejoice.

In the first place, we need to understand what rejoicing is, and what it involves. In Col. 1:24, Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” When Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:12 to rejoice and be exceeding glad, He is speaking to those who are to be reviled, persecuted and falsely accused. So it does not mean the kind of pleasure one gets from eating ice cream, or looking at a beautiful sunset. Rejoicing is an attitude that one can develop as he realizes that God will work all things together for his good, if he loves God.

In Philippians 4:4-8, when Paul is talking about overcoming anxiety, gaining peace and always rejoicing, he suggests some rules for doing that. First, pray about everything with thanksgiving. This is a deliberate intellectual and spiritual choice that you can make. When you make it, the promise of verse 7 is sure, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Then in verse 8, there is an additional statement that tells us how we can deliberately achieve the ability to rejoice always, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

It is not as easy for us to find specific quotations that deal with how to learn to love your enemies, or any other person, but I have gleaned from my study of God’s word for 65 years and my own experience in trying to do it, these four simple rules that will help. We can find scripture that helps illustrate and strengthen each of them, but will not include all of them here. The rules are: 1. Think something good about them (Philippians 4:8). It may be that they are so vile that the only good thing you can think of is that Christ valued them enough to die for them. Meditate on that. 2. Say good about and to them when possible (Titus 3:2). 3. Do good for them, when the opportunity presents itself (Rom.12:20). 4. Receive good from them if and when they offer it. When you receive good from God or another human, there may be created a feeling of gratitude which can grow into love. Remember that this love (agape) is not an emotion, but a deliberate choice of will to give of what you are and have for their welfare. By the help of God and His word, you can make that choice.

Preachers and teachers, try to teach your students how to do whatever it is you admonish them to do. Two primary ways to do it is to show the scriptural principles upon which they are to act, then demonstrate it for them in your own life.

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