I love to read. I think I have officially crossed over the threshold from avid reader to bookworm. With my love of reading comes my obsession with books. I don’t do e-books or anything like that. No, I want to feel the pages and smell the paper. Yes, I’m “that guy.” If you have ever borrowed a book from me, you can attest to the fact that the majority of the book is filled with highlights and pen marks as I love taking notes when I read. Sometimes, a book comes along and really challenges me. Other times, one will leave me encouraged or inspired. But very seldom does a book leave me challenged, encouraged, and inspired all at the same time. Recently I bought the book “Everybody Always” by Bob Goff. The message of the book is rather simple. It’s how to love people the way Jesus loved people. I don’t want to come across as though I’m endorsing Mr. Goff or his book. I simply want to encourage you with a few words from the book that spoke to me while reading this morning.
My daughter, Lindsey, is a teacher. One year, when she was teaching kindergarten, she told me she was working on report cards. Lindsey didn’t give As and Bs and Cs like I was used to in school. She gave the students different letters. For example, an “M” means they mastered the curriculum. A “G” means they were at grade level. My favorite grade, by far, was for the students who hadn’t quite wrapped their minds around an idea. Those kids got an “N.” Do you know what the stands for? “Not yet.” Isn’t that beautiful?
Jesus doesn’t give any of us grades, and I’m grateful for that. He’s the only one who ever loved people perfectly. None of us will ever get love and kindness or sacrifice entirely right. We’re all just doing the best we can. While I’ve never tried to grade my faith, if I did, I think there would be quite a few areas where I’d give myself an “N.” As much as I wish it were otherwise, I’m just not quite there yet.
What’s sad is I’m not quite there yet on a number of things Jesus said were the most important things to Him. For example, I get an “N” when it comes to loving the people who are well intentioned but make following Jesus feel like it’s a homework assignment to be completed during weekend detention rather than a banquet with Him. I’m not quite there with people who push others away from Jesus because of their behavior, rather than drawing them in with love. This included the ones who expect to meet people at the finish line rather than realizing we’re all at the starting line in our faith. I’m just not quite there yet in the way I deal with people who have frustrated me or who slow me down. I also get an “N” for being loving and accepting of people I disagree with as God wants me to be.
I don’t love God with my whole heart and soul and mind yet like He asked me to. I think I do, but then I see how I treat people who are different than me and it often looks like a guy who’s looking for a good deal in faith, rather than a guy who’s sold out to his. All of this said, God doesn’t measure things the way we do and He doesn’t grade us on a curve.
The first step is to realize even though we’ve got an “N” in Him, He is over the moon about us anyway, and He’ll help us find the strength and courage to change. Jesus never had a problem with people who knew their shortcomings; He didn’t tolerate people who faked it. Once we get real with where we actually are and desperate need for Him, He’s got a person He can do something with.
I hope these few paragraphs challenged and encouraged you as much as they did me. Let’s all strive to love people…even the difficult ones.
P.S. Go buy the book and a highlighter!
Praying for you always,