Messy: How To Love People When They Fail
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. — Romans 5:5, KJV
The love of God shines out of us. We’re intended to not just enjoy the love and presence of God, but shed it abroad. In Christ, we are God’s helpers, empowered by God’s Spirit to build up, encourage, and support one another. And we are privileged to be a part of that process.
Two non-variables in this process:
- God will complete the work he began in us, and he will use other people to do it.For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. — Philippians 1:6, NASB.
- It is possible to finish.I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy 4:7, ESV
It gets messy, but we can’t give up and we can’t give up on each other.
God Uses Messy People
God sent Samuel to Jesse to find David, the next king of Israel. All of Jesse’s older sons are able-looking to men, but Samuel looked through the Spirit to see what God saw.
Later, David makes a huge mistake and God sends another human—Nathan—to help clean up the mess and get David back on track.
In Acts 12, God speaks to separate Barnabas and Saul. Did He use an audible voice? Maybe. Maybe he spoke through people. Three chapters later Barnabas and Saul have a huge blowout over Mark. It gets messy sometimes. Barnabas and Mark go one way, and Saul takes Silas another way. In Colossians 4, Paul asks for Mark to come; there is restoration.
How to Love Messy People
Like baking cookies with children, there is vision for what you are creating. You can do it alone. It’s faster and easier to do it alone. But we love our kids, so we let them help. And they make messes.
But just like we forgive our kids, and help them clean their messes, and remind them that there is nothing they could do to make us love them any less – we need to do the same with each other. When our brothers and sisters in Christ make messes, when loving people gets hard, we need to forgive, help them clean up, and make sure they know we (and God) don’t love them any less.