Learning to Love People Better

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

I love my three year old. She is one of the most amazing, big hearted people I know, and yet she is three. And per normal three year old behavior, she has moments where she acts out that remind me that our sinful nature is going strong even from a young age.

A few weeks ago when I picked her up from school, I got a note that my daughter was pushing one of her friends on the playground and had to sit out. The next day, I got the same letter.

When I asked her why she was pushing and being mean to her friend, my daughter replied: “Because I want to.”

Yikes. I had to take a moment to think about how to respond to this (if you’ve ever tried to rationalize with a three year old, you know the struggle), but I eventually got on her level, looked her in the eyes and reminded her that her friend was made in God’s image and Jesus loves her friend. Because we love Jesus, we want to love other people as He loves them. And while that is several big concepts for a little girl to understand, I could see the wheels turning in her mind and heart.

“Okay Mommy, love my friend like Jesus loves her.” I wonder how many of us need to remember the same lesson.

In my experience, it can be hard to love everyone. While I usually can muster up some form of respect and “niceness” towards people I meet, there are times when I just think ugh, that person again. You probably have people in your life like that too, people who grind your gears or just get under your skin.

What would change if the next time you find yourself irritated or bothered by this person, you stop and pray and ask God to teach you to love them the way He does? Jesus was very clear in the book of Matthew that the way we treat “the least of these” (whether that means those who are marginalized in society or who we feel like marginalizing in our hearts), is the way we treat Him.

Jesus loves every person, even those we don’t like. He died for their salvation in the same way He died for yours and mine. And that love should compel us to push past our annoyance and discomfort and choose to love others like Jesus does.

The other person might never change, but you know what will? Your heart and mine. And as we grow more tender to the people around us, we get the privilege of honoring and blessing Him.

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