Ever look like that? Yeah, we all know we’re supposed to be cute and cuddly, but what happens when someone steps on our last nerve? Or…is mean to someone we love? The teeth and claws pop right out, don’t they?
There’s only one little problem with that—God told us we’re suppose to love people. All of them. And He didn’t say “love then when…” or even “love them if…”. Nope. Just love them.
He even went so far as to ask us to love our enemies. I'll be paraphrasing here, but basically in Matthew 5 Jesus comes right out and says, “Listen, loving people who are all sweet and cuddly and kind all the time, not a problem. But loving someone who doesn’t deserve it? Who has been cruel to you? Who knows just how to push your buttons? Now that right there will stretch you.”
He should know. He loves us. Enough to die for us. And we’re not always so cute and cuddly.
But we can work on it.
See, there are going to be times when you want to take someone down—literally or figuratively, we’ve all been there—but we cannot tackle a person and try to call it a bear hug from God simply because we’ve wrapped them in our arms. If our heart resembles that picture above, we’ve got a problem and people will see it no matter how nice our words sound or actions look. Simply put, we cannot effect change in people’s lives with our claws and fangs out even if we try to hide them.
God's Word says it best (doesn't it always!) right there in Romans 12:9:
Love must be sincere.
Sincere. Genuine. Honest. Heartfelt. All are synonyms. Not anywhere does it relate to easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible—if you rely on God. Look at Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Even loving who you think is unloveable with a sincere heart. So if we're going to be giving bear hugs, let's shoot for something like this: