Everyone has a story and a reason to be loved. That is the second lesson that I learned from being bullied ad then being judgmental. See no one can earn this right and no human being gave it to them. The fact is: God made every single human being on the face of the earth in His image and He loves them. That fact alone is enough to make us want to love each other no matter what. But what does that love look like? How can we love the person who cut is off on the highway, someone who is nothing like us, the person who is on the complete opposite side of the political aisle, or even someone trying to kill us? Simple but not easy. We should take after the single greatest representation of love, Jesus on the cross.
There comes a point when being bullied or without friends that one tries to find their worth in things besides people and friends. Unfortunately many people can’t even find that and instead find themselves worthless and thus deem themselves unworthy to live. Is that their fault? Some people would say yes. I say no. As a Christian it is literally my duty to tell everyone how much they are loved by Christ and how worthy they are to live. Christ died to give them that worth. Christ died so that everyone might serve a purpose and have value in the kingdom of the Lord. So we should act like it. I’m not talking like acting like we are entitled. I’m talking about acting in ways that treat others like they are entitled.
Think back to the last time someone cut you off while driving. Were they on their phone? Perhaps they were just not paying attention. Now think about how you reacted. Did you scream to no avail at your windshield? Or maybe you flipped them the bird and commented on how they are such a terrible driver even though you only saw a snap shot of their life of driving. Where is the love? Where is the grace? We have all cut someone off before, hopefully not on purpose just to make their day worse. I know I have been late, not paying attention, or just been in too much of a hurry and cut a few people off in my time behind the wheel. Jesus has grace for that, and we should too.
Too often we set ourselves above Jesus and think that others don’t deserve our grace, patience, or love. We get mad at the driver who cut us off saying they should have left sooner to not be late or maybe should have paid more attention in driving school. We get upset at the person taking forever in line at the grocery store because they can’t figure out how to use the keypad for their credit card.
Yet we rarely know their story. We don’t know if maybe they’re late to a family emergency or maybe just having a bad day. Perhaps that phone call is a stressed out daughter or son who is struggling being away at college. Maybe they’ve used cash for years and are paying by card for the first time. There are endless scenarios for endless situation in which people could benefit from our patience and grace. Some are farfetched and some are more reasonable. But even if there is no reasonable excuse, what does getting angry and having no grace do? We are still called to love and forgive even if the other person has no idea what they have done. Jesus does not call us to be loved or forgiven. We are called to love (John 13:34-35) and forgive (Matthew 18:21-22). He gave us grace abundantly so that we can share it with the world (1 Timothy 1:12-15).
As someone who often felt bullied and judge I came to know firsthand that there is always a story behind why someone does what they do. Even if that thing is a mistake or quirk, it is more than likely that I have something similar or probable even worse that others give me grace for. So who am I to lose my cool or be frustrated with them because they do something that I don’t understand or perhaps even disagree with?
Jesus had love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace for the men who put Him to death on the cross. He knew that they had no idea what they were doing or why, yet he still forgave them (Luke 23:34). His life was being ended, yet he loved the men who were killing Him. That is the kind of love we need in the world today. We live in a time where people call each other idiots, morons, and pretty much hate each other because they live different lifestyles, can’t agree on small issues, or one of them simply can’t remember to take out the trash. People make things too personal. They think others are out to get them or make their life worse. It is time for us, specifically Christians, to stand up and look to Jesus. It is time to be the bigger people and give grace and forgiveness even when our transgressors are oblivious to our pain. After all, in the end holding on to the pain and keeping a grudge only hurts us, not them. Their day isn’t ruined but our week might be.
The truth is we never know someone’s full story. They could be having anything from a bad day, to a bad week, even up to a bad life, and it probably isn’t entirely their fault. Many people will say that’s tough luck, life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, we’ve all been knocked down and it’s time to suck it up. Well I say it isn’t time to suck it up. It’s time to deal love and grace. Think about that one time you had a bad day and someone did something that just showed that they cared and understood. Maybe they bought you an ice cream as a child or perhaps a beer as an adult. It wasn’t a major deal but it was something that said, “Hey I see you’re hurting and I understand.” We need to do that with grace. So the next time someone goes off on you, don’t get angry back at them, something painful could have set them off. The next time someone doesn’t do their dishes, think about how rough their day or week has been and how tired they might be. It is time that we stop expecting people to live a certain way, do certain things, and/or give us the respect we think we deserve. Instead, it is time to give grace and show them love because we don’t know what they might be going through.
In the end it is all about having patience with others and loving them no matter what they do to us. Yeah there is a very high possibility that nothing is wrong and the other person is just being a jerk. If they are a brother or sister in Christ we should talk it out with them at a later time. But in that moment we need to lay down our pride and either go the extra mile, let them cut us off, or just stand there to get yelled at. Jesus let the Romans kill him so that we might receive the Father’s love, grace, and be at peace with Him. It is time that we do the same for others. Jesus said that, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). So yeah, the ultimate love is to die so that someone else may live. However, it is important to remember that this verse does not need to be taken literally to still ring true. Laying down one’s life can come in many forms and fashions. It means to sacrifice something in your life so that others may have something to gain in theirs. That could be anything from time, to effort, to resources, to our pride. People are different. People react to things differently. This world will not come to see Jesus if we as Christians get mad or upset at the people we encounter and disagree with. They are not perfect and neither are we. So we must love because He first loved us ((1 John 4:19) and we love Him by obeying Him and loving others), and then take the grace given to us and extend it to others.