You know what I like? Well, actually there’s a lot of things. Ice-cream, musicals, kittens – I could go on. Want to know what I really really like? When someone extends patience, kindness, and tenderheartedness toward me. It’s like an ice-cream kitten musical in my heart! (Insert your own metaphor filled with your favorite things if that one doesn’t work for you.)
Know what I don’t really like? Kale. Sit-ups. Going to the dentist. All things that are super good for you. But also? Painful. Kind of like when I know I need to extend patience, kindness, and tenderheartedness toward someone I don’t feel deserves it. Maybe they hurt someone I love, and I’m ready to pull out my lasso of truth and go full on Wonder Woman on them. Of course, standing up against injustice is important. But is it possible to do that good work, but walk away harboring hatred in my heart toward the perpetrator? How many times have I secretly declared that a human being, made in God’s image, is “beyond redemption?” Sadly, more times than I would like to admit.
In my voice I can hear the echo of the Pharisee who stood before God in the temple and arrogantly proclaimed, “Thank you that I’m not like these other sinners.” In that moment, I realize again that where I belong is with the other man in the temple. The one desperate for grace. “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!”
And here’s the crazy part of the story. He does have mercy.
You’re kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and very patient with people who fail you. Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.
When my love for my fellow image bearers comes up short? His never does. It overflows its banks. It’s power is enough to sweep away my failure and hurt, along with the failures and hurts of those who have failed me. All of us, undeserving, swept away by His love. Swimming in His kindness. Only here will we learn how to truly love.