I was a teenager when God taught me an important lesson about love. It was convicting and showed me an attitude that I’m not proud of. It was about showing love to the “unlovely.”
Now I don’t believe that anyone is truly unlovely—we’re all part of God’s creation and created in His image. But as a sinful human being, I found it easy to classify people as being unlovely. Whether in regards to their appearance, actions, or attitude, some people we know strike us as being unlovely.
At the ripe old age of fourteen, I was recruited by my church to help out with the Wednesday night children’s program. It was there that I met two little girls that I’ll call Anna and Kelly.
Anna was five years old and scared to be in the new class. I was standing where my group was supposed to be in the gym when Anna was deposited into my care. She held my hand for a while and seemed to need that extra attention. She was a sensitive soul, so for the two years I was a helper in her group, I looked out for her. The other kids were hardier and adjusted easily to change. But she was like a delicate flower that needed a little more looking after. And as much as she needed me to look out for her, that first night I definitely needed her.
I was scared and nervous about helping out in the program. As an only child, I hadn’t spent a lot of time around children. So being put in the role of helping to teach children about God was scary for me. I had no idea what I was doing. And even being entrusted with Anna was scary at first.
Enter Kelly. One of the years that Anna and I were in class together, Kelly was another child in our class. She was bolder than Anna and a bit messier too. Looking back on it, I wonder what her home life was like because she came to church dressed a little. . . untidy. For me, that was an adjustment because my clothes were always practically perfect when we went to church. In my teenage snobbishness, I decided that Kelly was unlovely.
That doesn’t mean that I was mean to her—I have a hard time being mean to anyone. But it meant that I had a hard time letting her get close to me. You know how kids are; they love their teachers. So they want to hug you and be right next to you whether or not you want your personal space invaded. It’s their way of showing affection.
I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but one night Kelly came to tell me goodbye for the evening. And God spoke to this foolish young person’s heart. He reminded me that even though it was easy for me to love Anna (who was cute as could be), Kelly needed me to love her too and that I was wrong to keep her at a distance just because I considered her unlovely.
And while that was several years ago—when it was still OK to hug a child who isn’t related to you—the lesson still applies even if an actual hug can’t be given. As fellow human beings, we should never consider another person unlovely. More importantly, as Christians, our duty (our privilege) is to show others God’s love. We may have a hard time loving someone, but that can never be our excuse for denying them His love—a love greater than our own, greater than our sin, and greater than the most painful death.
May you show His love to everyone who crosses your path today.
What has God been teaching you about His love?