“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...” John 3:16a
Think for a moment who your most favorite person is in your life. Who brings you the most delight and shines the most joy into your day? It may be a friend, a spouse, a child, or a parent. For me it is my 7 year-old daughter. Often I describe her as a “Polly Anna” - a child who is always full of life, fun, upbeat, honoring and ready for almost any adventure. If you were pressed to name one person, who would that person be?
Now, think of the person in your life who gives you the most heartache. I am sure it won't take you long to think up a name or a least a description of a person to list here. It may be someone living in your home, a relative, someone you work with, or a friend who has hurt you deeply. For me right now, that person is my exchange student. When she walks in the room the tension rises. I can't even begin to describe how selfish and ungrateful she has been these past 9 months as she has lived with us and every day of those 9 months I have, by the grace of God alone, chosen to serve her even though she acts as if everything I do for her is owed to her. But what about you? Who would be that person in your life?
As I was complaining to God yesterday about another incident that happened with our exchange student and her complete disregard for our family schedule over her own, I was praying and asking God to help me not completely lose my mind before she goes home at the end of next month. That was when I was washing dishes, and as I looked up my eye caught the devotional flip calendar behind my sink. On the calendar, the scripture was: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...” And that is when my complaining stopped and my deep thankfulness and sorrow for how I had been looking at the situation began.
You see, I finally saw the lesson God had wanted me to see. My exchange student is a good representation of the world that rejects the fact that God alone should be honored on this earth, not self. She has been unable to put herself under the authority of my husband and me and in turn has closed the doors to the child-parent relationship I know she really hungers for. On the other hand, my daughter Maggie loves to honor my husband and me and is very rarely even corrected for her behavior because she desires so much to please us and become even more deeply involved in our lives through the choices she makes to deepen those connections.
Do you see the association? Maybe this verse with the underlined words will help in clarifying what I knew God was speaking to my heart:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
What God did for me is even greater than if I sacrificed my daughter Maggie up for the sins of my exchange student! A sacrifice without any justification or any promise of a return – just a sacrifice of pure undeserved love.
I would love to say that I have a heart to give this kind of love, but I would be a liar. I have no idea how to love to that extent. I find it hard enough each day just to do little acts of kindness towards one who is so cold to me. But I do desire for God to start working in my heart to show me how I can love more like He loves me – one baby step at a time.
What about you? Are you willing to learn to love as God loves you a little more today through the difficult people He has put in your life? Pray and ask God to help you learn how to better love that person who just seems to bring heartache and strife into your life. Loving those who are unlovable is not a human act, rather it is supernatural and beyond our ability to both comprehend and carry out. But, “With God all things are possible”, and in that hope I rest in the prospects of getting better at loving each day.
I want to leave you with this final set of verses to meditate on regarding the thoughts I expressed above. They will be verses I will be dwelling on today also as I seek for God's help in loving the unlovable person He has chosen to put in my life. I hope they will be ones you take time to ponder and seek God over too.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14-21