Have you ever encountered a “sandpaper person?” You know, someone that rubs you the wrong way. Most of us want to run and hide from sandpaper people. Sometimes we escape them, but not for long. Eventually, we will run head-on into another one. Why? Because God is doing some of His best work in us when He places sandpaper people in our lives.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to love a sandpaper person? They’re usually arrogant, mean, rude and selfish. They like to demand their own way and boast in their accomplishments. Yet, God has called us to love all people—not just the lovable, but the unlovable as well. The Bible says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
You may be thinking that’s impossible. You’re right; in our own strength we can’t love the unlovely. Yet, God’s love is different than ours. We express love according to how we feel. When a friend is caring and helpful, we feel loved and then we express love back. We call that kind of love—“friendship love.” When being close to our spouse gives us a warm fuzzy feeling, we call that—“being in love.” However, if we love only according to our feelings, then we will never learn to love the unlovable, because the one thing we don’t feel around a sandpaper person is—love.
While most love according to their feelings, God’s love is more of a response of the will. Examine 1 Corinthians 13:4 as it explains how biblical love responds:
Love is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad over injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You’ll believe in him and always expect the best of him, while defending him. (NKJ)
That is how God loves us. No matter how mean or selfish we are, or how many times we settle for our own way of doing things instead of His way—God still has the capacity to love us. When we truly realize how God, by His mercy, has loved us to the end of our meanness, selfishness and pride, then no matter how heartless another person may be, we can chose to respond to them in a loving way also.
We respond to all people with love when we choose to see them as a valuable person created by and in the image of God. Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. It’s a choice that leads to lovely responses toward others.
So how is God teaching us to respond with His kind of love? You guessed it—by not “losing it” with the sandpaper people in our lives. When we respond to the meanest person we know with the loving kindness of God, then God has done one of His best works in us. He’s taught us how to love as He loves!
Application: - Stop running from sandpaper people. Instead, pray for God to bless them and give you opportunities to show them love. God will begin to change your heart toward them and a lovely relationship will begin to bloom.
Reflections: - Who is that sandpaper person God wants to use in your life to teach you how to love? Does your love for others match God’s example of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4? Will you allow God to do a good work in you by loving your sandpaper person, simply because He has loved you?
Scripture: - 1 Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (NIV)
1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (NIV)
John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (NKJ)
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