THE Scriptures reveal the divine characteristic of God's persevering love even for the vilest of mankind. The life and words of our Saviour illustrate His longing to put His arms around the most rabid and hateful of His enemies. He wants to grant to even the worst of them remission of sin and reconciliation with God, and to love them into His kingdom. God never ceases His search for His lost children though sometimes they resist the wooing and will not yield to Him. "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing" (John 6:39).
A widow, rich and in possession of a large house with many rooms, wanted to contribute something of value to the Master she loved. She decided to use her wealth and home to house orphans and unwanted children. Eventually she gathered thirty-six children and loved them all, that is, all but one. He was a thin, pimply, sickly, whining, irritable, spoiled, waspish, complaining child who never smiled. Try as she might, she could not make herself love him as she did the other children. One day the peevish boy was more irritating than usual. In desperation she grabbed his hand and pulled him to the front porch, sat him beside her on the swing, placed his head in her lap, and told him in no uncertain tones to go to sleep.
The afternoon was warm. The birds' singing, the bees' buzz, and the smell of blossoms all tended toward drowsiness, so she too slumbered. And she dreamed she was in the place of the boy on her lap. She became conscious of her uncomely, repulsive self, contaminated with sin. Even her best righteousness seemed very unattractive. Then she felt the presence of the lovely One. He smiled and said, "But I love you just the same and through this love you will be made beautiful in My righteousness." She awakened. In the warmth of that dream, she put her arms around the ill-natured child and planted a kiss on his cheek as sweetly as she had ever kissed anyone. A slight glow came into the boy's eyes. She held him closer and kissed him again. He smiled a little. Another kiss and he seemed to smile all over. Love begat love and this was the beginning of a transformed life for the child and for the woman also.
Are we not all as this boy—blemished, odious, in the presence of perfect holiness? Yet His gracious love, beyond human understanding, adopts us into His family.
There are many unlovely people in this world and some unpleasant ones may even be found within the realm of the church. Surely we who are the recipients of such compassion and grace from our heavenly Father can and ought to love even the unlovely!
A miner was ill and dying in his crude hut, without relatives or friends to care for him. He had driven everyone away by his meanness. Men who brought him food left as quickly as possible. One Christian man tried by repeated visits and many kindnesses to win the "ugly one's" friendship, but in vain. All lie received for his efforts were more curses. One morning the little daughter noticed that father had not included the man's name in his prayer.
"Have you given him up?" she asked.
"I'm afraid so, dear."
But the little girl persisted, "Has Jesus given him up?"
"No, I am sure He has not." The question sent him back to the hard task, and in time this father, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, succeeded in breaking down the barriers and in winning the hardened one to the merciful Christ and salvation before he was taken by death.
We have no right to give up on anyone until we are certain that God has given him up, and we can never be sure of that. While He perseveres we must also. And we may always hope that the next loving word or helpful service will melt the unlovely one's heart.
A. C. F.