[Submitted for KBR's 2014 Essay Contest]

by Julianna D.

“How could she dare to exclude me like that?” I thought hustling after a conversation. “That was so rude.”

The rest of the day didn’t go any better. I continued to grow more and more bitter over the issue. I told myself, “You must forgive” until I had created myself into a stoic superhero.

Finally, I poured out my frustration to my mother. After listening to my unfortunate tale, she calmy asked me. “And you don’t think that you had anything to do with it?”

Suddenly a wave of conviction swept over me. “Of course!” Suddenly I couldn’t believe my friend had been so kind… so longsuffering. How proud and arrogant I had been! How gracious God had been to me!

I had once again glimpsed that true love can’t come from myself, it comes from Christ. The more I realize the depth of Christ’s love and forgiveness to an undeserving sinner, the more I will respond not only in loving praise to Him but also in pouring that same love to others in my life.

It’s not as if I’ve got it down. Far from it. But rather, the excitement is that my love for others will grow as much as I peer into the mysteries of Christ’s love for me. It’s not a one-day ordeal but a lifelong pursuit of understanding the mysteries of God’s love for unworthy sinners such as I.

John sets the order straight as he put it simply, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”1

You see, Christ’s love works like glasses: the more we see the depths of His forgiveness and peer into His love, the more we can see straight to forgive others. Christ explained this shocking principle to a puzzled Peter:

“Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” 2

Our love to helpless sinners as helpless sinners ourselves can only stem from the One Who saved us from that sin. It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we can begin to truly love others.

I’ll never forget the story of the former Nazi officer who approached Corrie Ten Boom after one of her talks. As Corrie greeted the eager crowd, her eye caught the familiar figure of one of the former guards of the Ravensbrook concentration camp. Immediately, the cruel reputation of this guard flitted back through her mind: the grueling work, Bestsy’s slow, painful death. “No, I can’t forgive him.” She shook her head.

The man approached her and extended his hand. “I was a guard at Ravensbrook,” He admitted. “But Christ has forgiven me. Will you forgive me as well?”

Corrie looked at him in astonishment. How could she forgive this man who caused her sister so much pain? “I can’t love this man, Lord,” she breathed. “You must love him through me.”

Slowly, almost mechanically, Corrie extended her hand into his. As she grasped the hand of this former enemy, she felt the warmth of Christ’s love flow from the tip of her shoulder to her outreached hand. “I forgive you brother.”

Maybe it’s not a Nazi guard you struggle to love. It could be as simple as an annoying little brother. But if you’re struggling to love someone in your life, have you checked your relationship with Christ? How are your love glasses?

  1. I John 4:10

  2. Luke 7:47

Julianna D. (17) Is blessed to live with her family of six on the eastern plains of Colorado. She enjoys spending her time reading, playing the piano, cooking, and jumping at any chance to take care of a baby. She is grateful for the little lessons God teaches her through ordinary life.