I was recently thinking about some of the things the Bible had to say about love…
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Col 3: 12-17
I’ve never thought of wearing love as a garment!…what a great visual that is. It conjures up an image of something that we consciously put on when we get dressed everyday, just as we put on the armor of God. Why would we need to put on love? Of course we want to be able to love the people we are close to, but usually we don't find it difficult to love people who love us. It seems to me, we would need to put on something special for the people in our lives who are difficult and not easy to love.
If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. –Matthew 5:46 MSG
“Love your enemies! Do good to them! Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:35-36)
We all have had difficult people in our lives... people who demand too much of our time and energy....people who only care about you when they need something...people who get angry and take offense easily...people who you feel like you always have to be on guard with them or walk on eggshells around them...I heard a term for these types of people…sandpaper people. I must admit, when I heard this term, the first thing that popped into my mind was a picture of a “sand person”, aka, a Tusken Raider from Star Wars. Doesn’t that picture fit perfectly with how we might internally visualize a difficult person in our life?
If we think about sandpaper people, we picture someone who is irritating and they rub us the wrong way...but what does sandpaper do? It smooths rough edges. It takes down the surface of something to make it better. It removes imperfections. Sanding is not an easy process…it’s messy and time-consuming, but if done correctly, the effort is always worth the outcome on the finished project. I believe the Lord puts difficult people in our lives to help refine us … to make us into something more beautiful…something that resembles His image!
If left up to us, we would probably not choose to be around difficult people...but the Lord in His wisdom allows them in our lives to teach us things like compassion, grace and mercy. He knows how difficult people can be to love...He knows that we will need to come to Him to receive His love, strength and power to forgive as He forgives... to see others through His eyes... to love as He loves. We can't do those things on our own, but we can with His help. We have no control over how others act. We can only choose how we will react and respond to the things that they say and do. We can choose to let our interactions with sandpaper people make us bitter or better. We can choose to let them just irritate us, drain us and make us angry, or we can let the Lord use them make us more like Jesus. May the Lord help us to remember to put on His love as well as armor when we arise each day!