Do We Look at Them and Love Them?

Face

“The disciples were reproving them [for it]. But when Jesus saw [it], He was indignant and pained…” (Mark 10:13b-14a, AMPC).

As I was reading this story today, I contemplated Jesus’ unpleasant emotions towards His friends in that moment. “Indignant and pained” was not His usual joyful, peaceful manner. The NKJV says He was “highly displeased.” Clearly, the expression on His face and the tone of His voice did not match the Sunday School drawings and pictures where He is always wearing a smile. Apparently, Jesus does sometimes get unhappy with the ones He loves.

As a parent, I can understand this. In fact, Holy Spirit was using this very facet of my life to explain the principle to me. When one of my kids hurts someone, or displays a rebellious attitude, or deliberately disobeys me, or otherwise allows their sinful natures to take control of their decisions… my feelings are not pretty ones in that moment. I, too, become indignant, pained, and highly displeased.

Those emotions certainly come through in my eyes, my words, and my voice as I address the child in need of admonition. (I thank God for Holy Spirit’s empowering to not act out of anger! Still, neither am I going to plaster on a smile and speak to the offending one in a tone of commendation. Correction holds a vitally important place.)

Holy Spirit reminded me of this, and then asked me if the depths of my love for my children falters at all in those moments. My immediate and definitive answer was, and is, no. Nothing in all of creation could shake or diminish my covenant love for them. In fact, it’s the depths of my love for them that causes my emotions to rise up passionately in concern for them when they are headed in the wrong direction. It’s precisely because I love them so much that I don’t want them harming themselves and others with misplaced use of their free will.

Just a few verses later, Jesus addresses another young man who is in the wrong. This rich ruler has made an idol of his riches. What is Jesus’ response to him? “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him… (Mark 10:21a, NKJV). He loved him. And He loves us. In all of our mess, in all of our rebellion, in all of our idolatry, in all of our disastrously wrong choices, He looks at us, and He loves us.

Jesus’ pleasure in our choices, and His achingly deep love for us, are two entirely separate matters. Even if Jesus was indignant with His disciples in that moment, pained by their insensitivity, He was getting ready to give His life on the cross for them. His furious, reckless, undying devotion to them was an immeasurably deeper well than His displeased emotions in that moment.

I reflect on this truth in relation to how we as Christians engage with the world around us. We sometimes, I believe, toss around the phrase “Love the sinner but hate the sin” a little too casually. I think that oftentimes our hate for the sin ends up being the predominant force in the equation. Our love for the sinner has perhaps taken second stage to our indignant emotions about their wrong choices.

A closing thought. Those ones marching in the parade for the opposite political view… do we look at them, and love them? Achingly, passionately, in the marrow of our bones, love them? Are we devoted to them? Would we give our lives for them?

18 thoughts on “Do We Look at Them and Love Them?

  1. Jenn, I’ve always thought that the look of love Jesus had toward the rich young ruler is one of the greatest and deepest insights into His love for all mankind. I enjoyed mulling that over again today.

    As for your last paragraph/question: that is a tough one. I would like to say that my first and over-riding thought toward those of vastly different viewpoints than my own is one of love and care, but often times I feel self-righteousness rise up instead. It is in the reading and contemplation of Scripture like you mention today that allows me to humbly go to our God of love, seeking His forgiveness and Holy Spirit’s help in turning my actions/reactions toward the Lord.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post,
    Chuck

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    1. You are welcome, Chuck! Goodness, don’t we all desperately need Him to intervene in our spontaneous heart responses? Over and over again I find myself praying and asking Him to purifiy them and make them like His. I am so grateful for the progress He has made so far in this direction, and look so forward to the progress He will continue to make in transforming me to love like HIm!

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  2. OH the depth of human struggle as we live life being transformed into a higher image. Our children and folk around us need to see that we make mistakes all the time but turn back to God to say ‘sorry’. Jesus Christ was fully human as He interacted with his disciples to show them the way to higher relationship. We need to be neighbours and friends in our flawed humanity to others so we can clearly indicate the way to God’s Kingdom standards. Jesus now in HIS DIVINITY fully revealed is where too are bein transformed, May folks around witness the process as we live fallen but being changed human life. Blessings!

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    1. Wonderful wisdom, Faye. Allowing others to see our growth process is indeed SO helpful and powerful! Some of the most helpful preaching I have heard is when great men and women of God that I respect share transparently from their own struggles, battles, and triumphs. Thank you so much for sharing this insight!

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  3. To the last paragraph, I have friends who suggest I shouldn’t have anything to do with people who are on the Other Side politically. I’ve never quite understood that. Not only are these people family, but how does one change hearts and minds if we won’t have anything to do with that person?

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  4. Our pastor spoke on this same topic 2 days ago. He used Exodus 34:5-7. We are having a 40 day fasting and prayer. To appeal to heaven to have God extend mercy to our nation. Because He is a God who is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Who forgives! God loves the sinner. I too have been self-righteous. I need to have the love of God. I’m glad our pastor is leading us in not being judgemental. Thank you Jennifer for your daily posts. I know you hear from God. I love and respect your ministry!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Elena! Your encouragement means more to me than you know. And how wonderful that your pastor is leading you all in that way. He obviously is wonderfully in sync with the Father’s heart too. May the Lord pour out His Spirit mightily on your time of fasting and prayer together! ❤

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  5. Wow! Gods timing is perfect as always. Such an amazing thing to experience and witness how God focuses and relays the same message to his children who do not know each other…who dont even live on the same continent, yet they are recieving the same message at the same time. Amen!
    I just finished writing ‘How Are You Bringing About Change’ and then I read this post. Thank you Lord for confirming exactly where the messges are coming from, and it is NOT us.

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  6. That last paragraph, the one for us to ponder, is a very good one. When I play sport am in looking for opportunity to lift up the opposition out just to win? When I see ab person on the street fund-raising do I engage with them in conversation as a human, or try b to completely avoid them? When I see homeless people asking for help do I think about stopping to talk, or actually stop and talk?

    We are called to love all people, especially those we find it difficult to. Thank you for sharing God’s wisdom through his word. Peace to you. ♥

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