Have you ever encountered a sandpaper person? You know someone that rubs you the wrong way. Most of us want to run and hide from sandpaper people and sometimes we escape, but not for long. Eventually, we will run head-on into another. Why? Because God is doing some of His best work in us when He places sandpaper people in our lives.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to love a sandpaper person? They’re usually arrogant, mean, rude and selfish. They like to demand their own way and boast in their accomplishments. Yet, God has called us to love all people—not just the lovable, but the unlovable as well.
You may be thinking that’s impossible. You’re right; in our own strength we can’t love the unlovely. Yet, God’s love is different than ours. We express love according to how we feel. When a friend is caring and helpful, we feel loved and then we express love back. We call that kind of love—“friendship love.” When being close to our spouse gives us a warm fuzzy feeling, we call that—“being in love.” However, if we love only according to our feelings, then we will never learn to love the unlovable, because the one thing we don’t feel around a sandpaper person is—love.
God’s love isn’t based on feeling or merit. It’s more of a response of the will. Examine 1 Cor. 13:4 as it explains how Biblical love responds.
Love is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. Its never glad over injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You’ll believe in him and always expect the best of him, while defending him. (NKJ)
That is how God loves us. No matter how mean or selfish we are, or how many times we settle for our own way of doing things instead of His way—God’s response to us is love. When we truly realize how God, by His mercy, has loved us to the end of our meanness, selfishness, and pride, then no matter how heartless another person may be, we can choose to respond to them with love also. We can respond to the selfish and rude person with love, because that’s how God responds to us.
So how is God teaching us to respond with His kind of love? You guessed it—with sandpaper people. When we can respond to the meanest person we know with the love of God, as He has loved us, then God has done one of His best works in you and me. He’s taught us how to love as He loves.