This Week’s #ipromise Principle- God’s promise to finish what He started is a promise to live, not a position to attain.
Today’s #ipromise Principle- Finish with others…don’t be “finished” with them.
“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, NIV)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)
Have you ever wanted to be finished with someone? I have- with this guy.
Asa James is attractive, robust, and full of leadership skills, which is a nice way to say he is cute, chubby and bossy- a hazardous combination for any three year old boy. To be clear, I didn’t want to give up on Asa per se, but I wanted to give up on one aspect of his parenting- potty training. He is our third child, and is full of typical third child gusto, which led us to believe that he would be our easiest trainee yet. After all, we have successfully potty trained two kids and have the added bonus of being potty trained ourselves. Nothing could be easier, right?
Except Not. I will spare you the gruesome details, but suffice it to say that we endured months of changing sheets, bribery, toting 9-14 extra pairs of clothes at all times, bribery, steam cleaning carpets, bribery, purchasing “urine-b-gone,” bribery, washing car seats, and asking restaurant employees the dreaded question: “Excuse me, but do you have a mop we can use?” (Did I mention bribery?) We were ready to be finished. We were ready to let our child enter adulthood without being potty trained. I mean, how necessary is it…really?
For the record, Asa was ready to be finished too. He fought us, wrestled with us, defied us, and even tried to bribe us. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth all around. We felt defeated.
But finally, in the face of this frustration, our better instincts kicked in, and Kerri and I realized that we couldn’t let this one slide. We couldn’t give up on Asa James, because we love Asa James. In fact, we love him so much that we were willing to finish the hard work with him, even when he was finished with us. We fought the good fight, and we stand before you today as the exhausted parents of three potty trained kids. (Insert Applause)
I tell you this story because we all have someone in our life with whom we are ready to be finished. Maybe they have hurt us. Maybe they don’t return our texts or calls. Maybe they have sinned against us and left our hearts bleeding. Maybe they have rejected us for a different crowd. Loving people hurts sometimes.
Try as we might, we cannot control the choices others make. What we can control is how we are going to respond when faced with these hurts. Because the truth is, just as Kerri and I didn’t really have the option of being finished with Asa’s potty training, as followers of Jesus we don’t really have the option of being finished with others- even the hard cases. If you find yourself living in this tension today, consider God’s Word to us in Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4…
God’s Word through Paul has a ring of reality to it, doesn’t it? “If possible…as far as it depends on you…live at peace with everyone.” Let me interpret this for you- Do whatever it takes to fight for peace. Don’t simply settle into the peace that comes easy in certain relationships. Do what you have to do to keep yourself in a peaceful posture toward everyone, all the way to the finish.
Of course, we recognize that sometimes, relationships break down because of others’ choices, and the “if possible” of Romans 12:18 seems quite impossible. That’s where God’s Word through Peter serves as a constant, piercing reminder- “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Genuine love- the kind of steadfast love that God has extended toward us through Jesus- is the only fuel that can keep us from being finished. We can trust God’s Word here because we have lived it; God’s love has “covered” the “multitude” of our sins, and those who have experienced that love, we are now challenged to pass it on in a way that “covers” others too.
Practically, if you find that someone else seems finished with you, here’s what you can do- Fight for peace in your own heart. Ask God to put you in a posture of deep, 1 Peter 4:8-level love toward that person. Be ready for restoration if the opportunity ever does come. And where you grow weary and discouraged (because you will), be reminded of the love that is yours in Jesus Christ, the love that has covered all your sin and will never be finished with you.
Finish well, friends. Love is worth the fight.