These were exactly the words running through my mind the other day as I thought about a friend of mine. I had a circle of friends that spent a lot of time together, but this friend was, shall we say, difficult. My friends had tried to reach out to her and be good friends, and I had tried to reach out to her and be a good friend, but, needless to say, she had not responded well. Whatever was going on in her life overwhelmed the fact that she did have friends and was loved and cared for. Well, the other day I was thinking about her and how she had distanced herself from all of us, and I began to think of what I would say to her (hypothetically, of course). And literally, the words had barely passed my mind then I was stunned by the profound irony of them. “We tried to love you, but…” Really?? After all the amounts of Bible reading, sermon hearing, C.S. Lewis book pondering, and I came up with that?
It hit me that this is all too often the response we give each other, even within the church. We say all the right things about loving each other, and oftentimes, by God’s grace, we get it right. However, we tend to have our limits when it comes to God’s standards. We tend to think that as long as I go this far, however far that may be, in doing “what’s right,” that I’m ok. But it’s not ok. 2 Corinthians 8 has really convicted me on this point this last week in my Bible Study. It is about giving, and having a willing heart to give even when times are tough. I know that giving does not have to be only material things, but could be giving of our time, support, encouragement, etc. And it especially applies to love. I know that it is not always in our hearts to love each other, and we should not do things out of obligation. However, I realize that I must get beyond myself and my pride and selfishness to show love and service to others, no matter how much it requires. Ch 8 verse 5 reads that, “they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” This is the proper order of things. We cannot muster up the kind of love that Jesus commanded us to give to others. To get beyond ourselves we must offer up ourselves to the Lord and allow Him to use us in the lives of others. The motivation for our surrender, and consequential service, is found in verse 9 of the same chapter. It reads, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” If Jesus performed the ultimate service for us, who were lost in our sins, how can we deny our love to others, which is incomparably smaller?
As it is for those of us who were redeemed, isn’t it the ones who are “difficult” who need love the most? 🙂