By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I recently read the story of a young couple who moved into a new neighborhood. The first morning in their new home, the couple sat down to eat breakfast and plan their day. The young woman saw her neighbor hanging her freshly washed clothes outside, something I have never done and don’t intend to start doing.
“That laundry is not very clean. I don’t think she knows how to wash correctly. Maybe she needs better laundry soap,” the young woman mused. Her husband simply looked on, remaining silent.
Every time her neighbor hung her washing out to dry, the young woman made the same comments. A month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look! Her clothes are so clean! I wonder who taught her how to wash correctly.” The husband softly replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life. Author Jonathan Kestenbaum explains that what we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look. The reality is that judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who we are.
We are often quick to judge others. I find it so much easier to point out the flaws in the lives of other people instead of examining my own life for areas where I need to grow in grace and love. We must guard the perspective with which we view life – especially when it comes to dealing with difficult people. I call them sandpaper people – people who rub us the wrong way.
Have you noticed that sandpaper people are usually needy people? I have discovered that their irritating behavior is often nothing more than a disguised plea for help.
True love is God’s love. It looks beyond abrasive behavior to see and meet the real needs hidden there. It’s easy to love people who are just like us! Right? But John says the depth of our faith and walk with God is measured by how much we love others – not just those who are easy to love.
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).
We can say that we love Jesus.
We can attend every Bible Study we can find.
Jesus said that if we really love Him, we will love one another.
There you have it! Simple but life changing. Do people know you love Jesus by the way you love the people in your life – even the hard to love people?
I know. You are saying, “But Mary you don’t understand just how irritating my sandpaper person can be.” Oh friend, I can assure you that I can. For example, when I see that sandpaper person coming, I turn around and head in the opposite direction. When the phone caller ID shows the name of my sandpaper person, I don’t answer. Hurried conversations replace a listening heart. I tend to offer tolerance instead of acceptance.
And God is not pleased.
Remember, God wants us to love each other in the same way that He loves – unconditionally. I know. It is hard! In fact, God wants us to love in such a way that the people around us will know we are fully devoted followers of Christ. I wonder what our relationships would look like if we did love others the way Jesus loves us.
Nowhere in the Bible will you find the words, “When you feel like it, love others.” Nope! It is not in there. I wish! It would make this truth a whole lot easier to apply. But the Bible tells us to practice love. Love is an ongoing and very deliberate choice – not an emotion or a feeling. Let’s step out in faith today and choose to love others the way Jesus loves us.
Father, I have to thank You for looking beyond my faults and for loving me unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to love others in the same way. Give me eyes to see the needs of the difficult people in my life and show me how to meet those needs in a way that pleases You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Ask God to let you see one need in the life of someone you find hard to love. Ask Him to show you how to meet that need … and give you the strength to do it. Take action! Step out in faith!
More from the Girlfriends
Mary Southerland has encountered her share of abrasive people and learned the secrets of dealing with those kinds of people. Mary shares those secrets in her book, Sandpaper People.
© 2020 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.