By Carol Round
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. Proverbs 10:12
In a recent morning devotional, the writer shared about the loss of his 17-year-old grandson, the fatal victim of a robbery. Commenting on his grandson, the grandfather said, “We had recently attended his high school graduation, and he planned to enter college in the fall. He was a handsome, loving and talented young man. Now, suddenly, he was gone.”
As the writer continued to share his story, my heart went out to him and his family. I can’t imagine the pain they’ve experienced. The writer said, “The senseless murder of our grandson was not part of God’s plan. ‘What,’ I wondered, ‘led the killers to tear a hole in the glory of God’s world?’ The only answer that came to me was that evil had taken root in their lives because love was not there to crowd it out.”
As I pondered this thought, I had to agree. If someone never experiences the love of a parent, a kind neighbor, a compassionate school teacher, a loving church family or even the kindness of a stranger, how do they understand the love of Christ? As the writer above said in his devotional, “Many people who commit crimes against their neighbors have not experienced God’s love through their interactions with others. Much of the violence in life can be prevented if we Christians extend love to all people.”
All people—even the ones whom we’d rather avoid? The ones that rub us the wrong way or slyly insult us…do we have to love them too? Yes, according to Jesus, even the ones who annoy us, step on our toes, invade our personal space or whose personal habits cause us to turn up our nose in disgust.
In Mark 12:31, Jesus tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He didn’t say “like” them. He told us to “love” them, even the least of these.
Several times a month I work at our church’s food pantry, bagging groceries for those in need. Our Good Sam ministry now serves approximately 1,000 people a month. It has grown exponentially since I started serving in 2008. While it might be tempting to judge some of the “least of these,” we don’t know their story. As I have become less judgmental and more loving, I have learned how far a hug and a prayer go toward helping those who seek help. And you know what? I feel loved in return.
Jesus understood two important truths we must remember: Everyone is created in God’s image. Our Heavenly Father chooses to love each of His children. Second, because we’re all sinners, we’re unlovable. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Pastor and theologian Timothy Keller said, “If we know we are sinners saved by grace alone, we will be both open and generous to the outcasts and the unlovely.” If God can love us, surely we can love those around us.
Are you one of those who has never experienced Gods love through interactions with others? Gods loves you today just as you are. Ask Him, see for yourself, if He is not the best friend you have ever had. His name is Jesus, He is the only one who can take away the sins of the world. John 3:16 say, “God loved the world so much, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him, would have everlasting life.” If you’ve never really understood that often quoted verse from the bible I ask you to read it in context by starting at the beginning of John and reading straight through to the end.
We all need someone to confide in, someone to trust with our innermost hopes and fears. More importantly we all need to know that we are forgiven for our inadequacies, our sin. Even if you think you’ve never done anything wrong, think again, haven’t you done something wrong by not accepting the love which your friend has offered to you since the day that you were born? Start by asking Him to forgive you for ignoring His efforts to reach out to you. Say a simple prayer something like this:
Jesus, please forgive my sin. I know I haven’t done everything that I should with my life and I’ve often ignored your attempts to love me, to be a part of it. I know that you died for me and that you have a plan for my life. Please teach me your ways and help me to live my life for you, free from the fears of this world and the next. I want to be ready for eternity with you. Amen
Congratulations, if you have prayed this prayer, the Bible says, “ Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cr 5:17)
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