A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples. If you love one another. John 13:34-35
Jesus was preparing his disciples to live on without Him. He knew they could not be the church He wanted them to be if they did not show the same sacrificial love He was about to show by dying on the cross.
Jesus was talking about agape love; the kind of love God shows us every day. The kind of love that forgives even before we ask, never remembers our sin, always builds us up, and never tears us down. That kind of love can be hard to show, especially around people whose personality rubs against yours.
I was the director of the ‘Missionette’ program. Now they call it ‘Girls Ministry’. I not only directed the program but so many times I ran short of volunteers and had to lead a class too. This was one of those ministries that I loved. The only reward was the sweet smiling faces of those precious children, making any work I did feel like play. Rarely did I receive a thank you from a parent, but to see a girl receive Christ, and study His Word, made me feel like I was leading a million dollar ministry.
While I was the Daisies leader, two very hard-working girls went ahead in their books and finished every badge and project. I had to move them up to the Prims program because there was nothing left for them to do. Their best friend didn’t come every week and when she wanted to move up with them, I told her she either had to finish all the work or wait until next year when she changed grades. She complained to her mother and the next week they were waiting for me outside the door.
When the mother asked why her daughter wasn’t moving up, I started to say that she hadn’t finished the work because she didn’t come regularly but, before I could get out the words, the mother began to yell at me and jab her finger in my face telling me I had no idea how hard it was to get to Wednesday night services every week, she had a job, kids, dinner to cook, etc.
I stood there as she screamed and her child looked up at me with an embarrassed face. I closed my eyes and let her rave; I didn’t want to answer in anger in front of her child. When she left I found a quiet room to be alone in and, with the light out, I cried and complained to Jesus. Jesus impressed on my heart that she was having difficulties at home and I had to forgive her. Not only that but I had to agape love her.
He even showed me how: I prayed for her and her family every day. I went out of my way to walk all the way across the sanctuary until I found her every Sunday and gave her a hug. I never mentioned the incident and never asked her to apologize. It worked. I had no resentment, and we became somewhat friends, not close, I wasn’t going to chance a repeat of her behavior, but still on a friendly basis.
There will always be people in the church, community, work, even family whose personalities are so different than yours that when you are around them, you feel like sandpaper is rubbing on your skin. It doesn’t mean they are wrong and you are right. It doesn’t mean they are mean and you are nice, it just means you are different. God uses all people of all personalities. Your job is to agape love them. You don’t have to be ‘besties’ and go to coffee every week, but you do have to show them respect, pray for them, and work alongside them for the betterment of the kingdom of God.