An adorable bright-eyed little girl runs at full speed to leap into my arms, never doubting whether or not I will catch her and most likely spin her around to draw out a euphoric giggle.
The teenage girl who rides the church bus purely for social reasons, rolls her eyes when the others greet her, slips headphones into her ears to drown out the enthusiastic singing of church songs, and snaps when she is told to put those same headphones away.
Not so easy.
This has been on my mind a great deal these days. I have always considered myself to be a loving person, or at least friendly to everyone, but as I read through the life of Christ, I realize I was comparing myself to other people and not to Jesus Christ, Who loved perfectly.
Paul admonishes the people of Corinth by saying that “they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” He also writes to the Ephesians saying, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Jesus Christ is the only person to Whom I should be comparing myself. His perfect love cost Him His life. My love cannot even begin to compare. There have been times that I didn’t want to show love simply because I knew it would put me outside of my comfort zone! It’s truly convicting. Jesus loved everyone, and that is seen not only in His death, but even in His life. He loved the unlovely.
If we truly love the Lord, we will love the unlovely too! in Matthew 25, Jesus says,
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Wow. I say I love Jesus, but do I help provide for others in need? I say I love Jesus, but do I go out of my way to visit those in trouble? Do I really love Jesus?
Amy Carmichael wrote a little book called “If.” I have probably read it over twenty times, and every time I read it the Holy Spirit works within me. One portion says this:
If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even their little weaknesses;
if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way;
… then I know nothing of Calvary love.
I would venture to say that usually those who are most unloveable are those who need the most love.
There is a young girl who rides my bus. She is loud, boisterous, and basically obnoxious. I used to avoid her because talking to her was exhausting. One Sunday, she was quiet, too quiet. The Holy Spirit prompted me to talk to her, and drudgingly I went. I began to ask her a few basic questions. It only took a minute to realize this girl needed love. Her mother had committed suicide. Her dad was no where to be found. She was made fun of at school. She had finally reached a point where she couldn’t fake being okay. My heart was broken. I couldn’t believe how self-centered I had been.
The next Saturday I visited her home, which was a less than desirable environment for anyone. I could tell it made her day. I realized she needed someone to reach out to her and show her the love of Christ. She wasn’t going to see that love at home. She wasn’t going to see that love in school. She needed to see that love in me! This girl is just as obnoxious as ever, but I love her. This morning I gave her a necklace. It was really insignificant, but she acted as though I had given her a priceless treasure! Whether she knew it or not, I don’t think it was the necklace that meant so much. It was the idea that someone thought of her – loved her enough to give her such a trifle. Thankfully, this girl knows that God loved her enough to send His Son to die for her. She knows the perfect love of Christ, and I hope she continues to be reminded through me.