Sunday, January 2, 2011

To Love the Unworthy

It started when I was in college. For reasons I still don't understand, God breathed into me a spirit of discernment concerning people. Since that time, He has told me many times "beware," "hold back,"or "stay alert."

But I haven't always listened, choosing instead to think that the voice must be wrong...choosing to instead to live in denial of what my heart knew. After all, everyone else liked the person, so what was my problem? As you can imagine, I've reaped many a hurt from not paying attention to my "God-sense."

Awhile back, a man and a woman came into my family's life. Everyone around us welcomed them with exuberant, open arms, but I held back. The bells and sirens were going off again. From the very start, I felt something was wrong, even if I couldn't put my finger on it.

As the months passed, though, God prompted me to show love to these people. I was confused, unable to reconcile what I believed were Godly warning bells with Godly instructions to reach out anyway.

So, I pulled a Gideon, asking God for confirmation that I was, indeed, to demonstrate His love in a specific way towards this couple. Before I turned in that night, He did just that.

And I obeyed. More than once, I sacrificed my time, prayers, money, and talents to show one man and one woman that God's love is real.

I sacrificed, knowing that I would not get anything in return from them for they had nothing to give...and secretly, I hoped the bells were wrong.

Over the past month, though, some of the truth has begun to surface. I felt used, like my gift of His love was in service of a scam. And I asked God why He had me get involved at all?

His answer was firm, but swift--who was I to question whom He wanted me to show HIS love to? After all, was I deserving of His love? Had I anything to give Him in return for all the love He had bestowed upon me through others?

He then directed me to 1 John 4: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him....Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:7-11).

To show others love is to show others the love God gave a completely undeserving you and me when He sent Jesus to die for our sin.

Likewise, to deny others His love just because I believe them unworthy or undeserving of it is not possible if God lives in me as master of my life. In fact, a few verses later, John puts it quite bluntly, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar" (v. 20).

We are called to love, and HE is the reason.

I love how the NIV version puts it: "Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them...In this world we are Jesus" (v. 16-17).

In this world we are Jesus.

Even if we know a person can never give us anything and that it will always be a "take-take" relationship...

Even if we believe our act of love would be better served elsewhere...

Even if...

Yes, we are to love with our eyes wide open, not with an ostrich-like head stuck in the sand.

But still, we are to obey His voice, for you and I are called to love as Jesus loves.

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