I was running late for church one morning and couldn’t find the dress pants that went with the shirt I wanted to wear. Finally, I located them and went to the door to put on my shoes when I stepped in something wet. One of the cats had left a surprise by the door! The loose stool not only soaked my sock, but was smeared all over the leg of the pants I had worked so hard to find! I was furious!
This was hardly the first incident. In fact, the previous Sunday we had been delayed because one of the cats had peed in the box of kids shoes after which ensued a frantic search to find footwear that didn’t smell like cat urine. Over the years we have lived with cat hair on everything, vomit showing up on our bed, cat “tootsie rolls” deposited outside the litter box, and there are still plenty of mice that live happily in our basement and kitchen! The worse, though, was a cat my wife had rescued after it had sustained a tail injury which resulted in loss of bladder and rectal control. Even though it was restricted to living out doors, it managed to leave urine and fecal balls all over, which rusted many metal objects in our garage (like the freezer top and lawn mower), ruined many other items stored in the garage, and even permanently stained the back of my truck. To top it all off, the cat was sitting up in the garage rafters one day, and let loose its bladder just as I was walking underneath! Urine nearly missed my head and came pouring down onto my boot!
So why do I put up with all this? For one important reason: I love my wife! And she loves her cats. Similarly, in life there are a lot of people who frustrate us, but God commands us to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28); and why would we do that? Because God loves even the most “unlovable” people around us. When you “love your enemies, [and] do good to them… you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” We are called to “Be merciful, just as [our] Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)
Yet most of us, when we think of that person that hurt us, that person who we resent so much, would after honest consideration say that this command of Christ’s “is too hard! I can’t do it!” And apart from God’s help, it is impossible to truly love our enemies. In fact, without experiencing God’s love, we really don’t know how to love. We start out life thinking that love is a feeling, that when you are fond of someone, or attracted to them, that we love them, but this superficial love has more to do with what pleases us than “true” love.
The truest form of love is God’s love. It is a sacrificial love, a love that is committed to the well being of the other person regardless of whether that person reciprocates your love or remains hostile. The greatest example of this love was demonstrated when Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Romans 5:7-8 says “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (while we still hated God and were in full rebellion toward him-see Romans 1:18-32), Christ died for us! 1 John 4:10-11 says “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Jesus died for all of us, but only those who admit there their need for him, ask him for forgiveness of their sins, and truly seek to know our risen Lord and savor Jesus Christ, get to experience this incredible love that has already been poured out for us. When we have truly tasted the love of Christ Jesus, we fall in love with Him. Then, and only then, can we truly love our enemies. We love our enemies because we love Jesus, and Jesus loved our enemies enough to die for them!
So who is that tough person to love in your life? Even more importantly, have you truly experienced God’s love through Jesus? If so, you know who to go to, to help you love that difficult person. If you have questions about how to truly know God and experience his love, please contact us here at Grace Baptist church.
As for my wife’s cats, Psalm 145:13 says that the Lord is “loving toward all he has made,” (NIV) which of course includes her cats, so the answer to my title question is yes! (but I don’t think that God requires me to love cleaning the litter boxes!)