This post started out with the title The sinners I find it hardest to love. But, as I thought more about what my greatest frustration with others is, I found that I fail to understand how to love what is hard. For example, how do you love someone who is more like stone than pliable personality? Even more simply, what does one do with such an individual? When someone is like a stone–harsh and unmoving with a “set” quality to their character–how am I supposed to give and receive life while I am with them? I have spent many hours puzzling over this in the course of my life, and the only thing I’ve decided so far is that it impossible–from my viewpoint, anyway.
The hardest part in trying to learn how to love them is not their sin–in itself–but their commitment to it. Their heart is hard and unable to be molded. I resent their comfort with themselves; the lack of acknowledgment they show towards their own need for change. Often, they are the first one to tell you that you need to change. On the one hand, I agree with them. Yes, I do need to change. It is a given. But, please, whatever you do, don’t use my need to change as an excuse for you to not regard change as a necessity for yourself.
An unwillingness to change or be challenged seems like a kind of death to me. People who live out such a commitment seem to breathe out the death that they allow to stay shut up inside. It’s a fearful cycle. And I so often wish I had the liberty of removing them from it. I think, Why wouldn’t you want to be the best you can be? Why wouldn’t you want to mend your broken ways? I don’t fully understand the unwillingness to acknowledge personal brokenness. That seems so childish to me. Grow up and face the truth, I think; don’t you see that you’re caging yourself up because you don’t?
But no one heeds my internally voiced suggestions. Naturally, this aggravates me exceedingly. Don’t they know I want what is best for them? How can they be so blind to what is needed in their life? It is evident to me, as I write this, that in all these detours, I am trying in vain to take on the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those around me. I think He is somehow to weak and if I take on the job their could be powerfully positive developments. Clearly God needs my help.
But maybe I’m just as blind as the people with whom I’m angry. Maybe the reason for my disgruntled attitude is a problem that is deeper and more personal than I think. Could it be that I’m trying to control more than God has given me power over? If so, this could only be because I was making an idol of the contributions others make to my life–I am lifting them above God and thinking that’s okay.
Has my thinking become an expression of self-exoneration? My actions–even when they are solely at the heart level–reveal my propensity to play the God-puppet in the production of my life. I have commandeered His part so that I can be sure it is acted-out right. But this makes me wonder if I quench the Holy Spirit in myself when I try to play Him for others.
Am I condemning God with my beliefs? If I diminish the usefulness of His ministry to others, I cannot properly be reverencing His presence and activity in my own heart. I must choose whether I will see Him as sovereign in all parts of life or in none.
When I think about what I’m not satisfied with around me–even when it comes to spiritual things–am I putting my own comfort become God’s Lordship? If I think God has to earn the title of Lord, then I have automatically usurped His reign. I think He must prove Himself to me and I do not even see the error in this.
The last question that comes to mind invites me to recognize my ignorance about myself and the graciousness of God to put me in situations that reveal this in ways that move me to action: Do I need to change more than I thought? Perhaps God has not revealed to me all the hardness of my own heart, yet, and I need to encounter the hardness of others hearts to be able to recognize the inflexibility in my own.
I haven’t solved the love problem yet–that is, how I will love others that I currently don’t–but maybe me being able to love others is not the central problem. Maybe God’s love completely permeating me is the problem. Perhaps my greatest concern daily should be that my own heart is being made ever-more tender toward God. Maybe seeing the hardness of others hearts should be a reality check for me–
Lord, I can easily see their hardness toward You, but please show me my own hardness toward You that I can’t see. I know I’m not as tender as You want me to be; I’ve come a long way, but I’m not as far as You dream for me. So please, remove some more of the obstacles in my heart to the change You yet intend for me. I may just find that I’m harder in places than I thought I was–and I need just as much Holy-Spirit softener to act upon me as the person I can’t stand right now!