Let’s be honest. Some people are hard to love. Your annoying neighbor. The person who cuts you off in traffic. That opinionated co-worker.
Some friends of mine have two-year-old triplets. Remember the “terrible twos”? Multiply that by three, and you don’t get six. You get the multiplied energy, curiosity, and noise. Now, imagine going out to eat as a family.
My friends and their enthused triplets did just that, and the Terrific Three got the idea they would run around the table neighing like horses. A man sitting at the next table made a snide remark about the lack of parental control, and my friend gently responded that when the man has two-year-old triplets, he can give all the advice he wants. And the man sneered and said, “I would NEVER be stupid enough to have triplets.”
Needless to say, it was about all my friend could do not to “neigh, neigh” a punch across the man’s face. As I said, some people are hard to love.
And sometimes WE are those people. At times we act selfishly, stubbornly, and spitefully. We require grace just as much as we need to extend it. While we work out what God has worked in, we acknowledge others are doing the same.
Remember the Apostle Peter? Peter was bold, rash and impetuous, and most likely he got on others’ nerves. He often thought he was right (John 13:8). He vowed he would never deny Jesus, even if others did (Matthew 26:35). He even rebuked Jesus (Matthew 16:22). I mean, who would do that? You’ve got to be pretty full of yourself to rebuke the Lord of the Universe.
And yet Jesus continued to love Peter. As the old hymn says, how grateful we are for “the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!”
Augustine once wrote, “Anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them” (On Christian Doctrine).
What is the best indicator that someone knows the Bible? Is it that they can quote verses or wax eloquently in their explanation of some obscure passage? Augustine, who knew quite a bit about the Bible, said if you do not love God and neighbor you understand very little. I wonder where he got that idea (Matthew 22:34-40)?
The next time you’re around someone who is hard to love, be grateful for the opportunity to pour into him or her what has been poured into you—“. . . God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).