"Loving the Unlovable"
September 6, 2014
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Years ago I read of a good, Christian teacher who had a student who wasn't the "teacher's pet."
It's not that the boy was bad or caused problems; he didn't. He just didn't seem to care. At recess he stood alone and when called on, his answers were single words. While other children took turns helping her, he preferred to be passed over. Now this teacher had always prided herself in loving her children the same, but she had to confess, it was difficult, almost impossible, to feel the same way about this boy.
Things began to change when the teacher checked the boy's records. His first-grade instructor had commented, "He has a good work ethic, but a poor home environment." The second-grade instructor said he was "a fine little fellow who should apply himself more." In third grade the teacher had recorded "The illness of his mother had made him serious." Later, someone had added, "His mother died today."
Teacher's heart softened when she read that.
The school year progressed and, eventually, Christmas came, as did the school's Christmas party. The children brought in their gifts for teacher. There were coffee cups, refrigerator magnets, scented candles, and bubble bath. The boy brought his gift in a bow-less brown bag, which had been decorated with crayon colorings. When teacher opened his gift, she found a bottle of inexpensive perfume. The class snickered because, even at a distance, they could see the bottle was half empty.
As I said, this teacher was a good, Christian teacher, and she did what any good, Christian teacher would do. Although the perfume was hardly her scent, she sprayed it on herself and gushed about how much she appreciated the boy's present.
When recess came, for the first time all year, the boy approached her desk and said, "You smell nice. You smell like my mom."
At that moment, the teacher loved that boy.
That's a great story, but let me ask, how would that story end if the boy had been disruptive and a bully ... or suppose the teacher hadn't read his records and heard of his loss ... or he hadn't shown up with that half-full bottle of perfume? What would have been the attitude of the teacher toward him then? What would your attitude be toward the lad?
Most of us admit we would have had a hard time loving him.
All of this explains why the Lord's love for us is so unique. Scripture tells us "while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us." The Lord didn't wait for us to get our acts together -- to straighten up and fly right -- before He loved us. On the contrary, He sent His Son to save us while we were still in a state of rebellion and disobedience. He sent Jesus into a world that would hate and murder Him.
Now He asks that all who have been touched by that love and been brought to faith in the Savior, do the same for others. That's the point Jesus was making when He said, "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" (Matthew 5:46-47)
Jesus' questions are answered when we do as He did and love the unlovable.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we have been saved because You loved unlovable sinners. Now may we who have been washed of our sin by the Savior, do our best to follow in His path. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
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Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries