There are just some people that I have a hard time loving with the love of Jesus. So what do I do about that? I mean I truly do try, but whether because they are selfish or arrogant or rude or mean or just plain irritating, it is all I can do not to run fleeing from the room when they enter. And yes, I am well aware that I may have that same affect on others. Hannah had this problem with Peninnah. Hannah was the wife whom Elkanah truly loved, but at first, she could not have babies so he took a second wife, Peninnah, who bore him children. Peninnah was purposefully mean to Hannah because she was jealous of Hannah. Peninnah was persistent in making Hannah miserable, actually 1 Samuel 1:6 says she provoked her sore. But the key was that Hannah did not let Peninnah cause her to sin. Instead she took her misery to God in prayer.
Now, I can’t say that she went so far as to love Peninnah. The two were probably in too close a proximity for that to happen. Maybe Hannah could have loved Peninnah if she wasn’t constantly rubbing Hannah’s face in her misery. God did not say that we have to be virtual doormats to every person on a daily basis to love them the right way. 1Peter 8, 9 says, Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
So, what proximity or distance, or even frame of mind do you need to be in order to keep God’s command to love one another as He has loved us? For some people, that may mean you can only be in their presence once a year… or two, and then only for a brief time. Then when you are with them, you can sincerely smile, be gracious, and truly love up on them.
As Charlie Brown said, “God bless them, every one.” So in this New Year, identify your Peninnahs, take your positions, and love them deeply, from the heart (1Peter 1:22)
Michele Clark Jenkins is the co-founder of the Sisters in Faith Brand. She is also the General Editor for the Sisters in Faith Holy Bible, Real: The Complete New Testament, and The Children of Color Storybook Bible and has contributed to numerous Bible projects, including the Women of Color Devotional Bible and the Wisdom and Grace Devotional Bible. Her book, She Speaks: Wisdom from the Women of the Bible to the Modern Black Woman is due out from Thomas Nelson January 15, 2013. Ms. Jenkins heads the Consulting Group at Griffin & Strong, P.C., Attorneys & Public Policy Consultants in Atlanta and has been an entertainment executive for more than 30 years. She and her husband, Kym service as home group leaders at Liberty Church in Marietta, GA where John Fichtner is the Senior Pastor.