There was a boy named David in my fifth grade class. Although it’s difficult to remember much about that year in a north Florida school — except a crush on my teacher, the gorgeous, young, Mrs. Cox — I still remember David.
Let me share two memories of him: He was a messy-looking boy with a head full of brown curly hair and he smelled like urine. The class teased him mercilessly and there was a sense that David didn’t have much of a home life. The second memory has endured more powerfully than the others. Many years after fifth grade came and went, I was going through some old school yearbooks. While thumbing through my elementary book there was David’s photograph. I didn’t remember that he had signed my yearbook, but sure enough, there was his note. Simple, yet profound, it read: “Jesus loves you. David.”
Here was a kid, abused and unloved by others, who, not returning like for like, gave back the love that was in his own heart. What kind of positive energy must a child like that have possessed to overcome the negative feelings of others toward him?
Being attracted to others is a biological ability. It comes naturally and doesn’t require a bit of discipline or effort. Loving someone who loves us is warm and fuzzy. It’s hard to dislike someone who treats us well. The David kind of love is difficult. It’s the kind that is mature enough to empathize and not sympathize. It’s the kind of love that asks: “What’s it like for that person? Or, “What could I do to help that person live a better life.” It’s the kind of love that makes us most like God.
So how do we love God today? By treating someone well when he or she “appears” to be of no immediate value to us. Do you want to be great today? Start looking for someone to love and encourage, someone whose generous soul may be hidden in filthy clothes. Loving the “unlovable” can turn them into the princes they were meant to be. And it turns the lover into someone resembling a King.
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1. Who do you know that is difficult to love?
2. What steps can you take to reach out to them?
John 3:16; 1 John 1:10
Dan Johnson is the Lead Pastor of Next Church in Tacoma, Washington and CEO of the Next Leadership Association
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