Mother Teresa said, “It is easy to love those who are far away. It isn’t always easy to love those who are right next to us. It is easier to offer a dish of rice to satisfy the hunger of a poor person than to fill up the loneliness and suffering of someone lacking love in our own family.”
I believe Mother Teresa’s right. Sometimes it’s easier to, say, fill a shoebox with toys and treats for a child overseas than to address a friend or family member’s needs, especially when that person is difficult to love. Given a choice, I’d rather lavish love long-distance, even if it’s never acknowledged, than risk being misunderstood or used by someone known with a difficult personality. It’s easier to invest in a stranger than in a human sponge who irritates me or absorbs my time and energy with little or no return. Can you relate?1 Peter 1:22 challenges my attitude: “You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.”
The last phrase pokes me in the conscience. Love each other deeply with all your heart.
Sheesh—if only it read something like this: “Love those who are easy to love. As for the others, well, love them as you can, when you feel like it, and in whatever manner is most comfortable for you.” My life would be much simpler if I could edit and tweak those eight words.
Making my life simple isn’t what God’s about. He’s about making me holy, about making me reflect His character to a watching world. Because He loves deeply from the heart, so must I. In some instances, doing so might prove inconvenient, costly, time-consuming, or downright difficult. No one understands this more than God. And no one’s more qualified to show me how to do it, especially when it seems an impossible task.
Perhaps a good morning prayer would be, “God, please open my eyes to those near me who are lacking love today. Show me how love them deeply from my heart, and then enable me to do it well.” Yes, I think I’ll add this one to the beginning of each day. I wonder how God will answer? Will you pray it, too?