John 13:34 "Love one another as I have loved you."
Friend To Friend
Everywhere I go, I seem to be surrounded by red hearts, roses, pink ceramic dishes, boxes of chocolate and brightly decorated cards that sing mushy love songs and even let you record your very own words and thoughts of affection. February is the month of love but if we are honest, some people are harder to love than others. I call those people "sandpaper people" because they can be irritating, abrasive and tend to rub me the wrong way.
I can also be a sandpaper person. We all can. Our only hope is God's love at work in and through us. God calls us to love the unlovable and to reach out to those people we would rather avoid. God calls us to love each other just like He has loved us. In fact, God uses those difficult people to refine us and make us more like Him.
In the late 1800's, a group of women enrolled in a Bible study came across Malachi 3:3, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Since no one understood the verse, they commissioned one of their members to explore the process of refining silver and report back to them at their next study. The woman called a silversmith, making an appointment to watch him work and ask a few questions.
On the appointed day, she saw him hold a piece of silver over the fire, letting it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, a silversmith needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest, so that all impurities would burn away. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled. "Oh, that's easy. The refining process is complete when I see my image in it."
Difficult relationships can sometimes make us feel like we are being dangled over a fire of unreasonable expectations, can't they? It seems easier to simply give up and walk away from all of the emotional stress of trying to make the relationship work. When we make the choice to love a sandpaper person, we are inviting God to work in us and through us to bring about change - to create His image in us so we can then see His image in others. Difficult relationships and combative interactions do not hold up well in an atmosphere of love, because it is through love that stubborn wills are compelled to yield. Under the influence of God's love in our lives, winning no longer seems important to us, as we recognize the value and worth of a soul.
Father, I thank You for loving me even though I can be abrasive and difficult to love. I want to love like You love and be a vessel through which Your love can flow to others. Please help me to love others the way You love them and help me see those sandpaper people through Your eyes of mercy and grace. Refine me, Lord, and make me more like You. Conform me to Your image, Father.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Because we are the work of God, it is a spiritual discipline and step of obedience to see ourselves through God's eyes - as someone of worth and value. Sandpaper people often lack this perspective. Before we can love the difficult people in our lives, we must first love God and ourselves.
Read Psalm 8:3-5. Evaluate the way you see yourself by the standards in this passage. What difference could this verse make in the life of a sandpaper person?
Read Jeremiah 1:5. Look back over your life. Identify the "special work" for which God has set you apart. How has He prepared you for that work?
How has God changed your life? List the ways God has transformed your life. Praise Him for each one. List ways God could transform the life of your sandpaper person. Pray for each one.
More From The Girlfriends
I find it fairly easy to get along with people who think like I think. Can you relate? Thankfully, God does not see it that way. That sandpaper person is not in your life by accident. God has a plan for both of you that will refine you and make you more like Him.
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