Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
I am really not sure why or how I thought a new puppy was necessary but in my crazy need for nurturing there is a new family member. Her name is Scout and she is a massive Labrador Retriever. Her daddy is larger than most in his breed and she is definitely daddy’s girl. So much so, that is hard to conceive that she is only nine months old. We have had a few dogs over the years. All Chihuahuas and none above about 8 or 9 pounds. Scout is already about 16 pounds. She lumbers around like a toddler requiring constant supervision as she is currently “teething”. She wailed driving away from her parents and siblings. Crate training is our method of pet handling and she does not agree with our methodology so her first night home was a living nightmare. She wailed and whined as though being tortured until finally like any baby falling asleep. I was near tears heading to bed thinking what have I done? Did we really near this kind of responsibility? Oh my goodness!
Many people recommend this breed of dog. She has great potential not only as a pet but maybe even as a duck hunting dog when she is older. Right now. She is a demanding puppy in need of much love, training and discipline to teach her acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. She requires a commitment. It will take a whole lot of patience although last night I pretty much felt like she was going back. I believe the Lord is going to teach me something valuable and important in this process. Our other dogs have been rescues. Dogs that were brought home and discarded. Each required some retraining and discipline along with great patience. But this is my first baby – dog that it is – I keep telling myself I raised five human babies so surely I must be able to do the same for this animal.
Puppies are obviously not as important as people but still require commitment and patience to nurture and develop successfully. I wonder what might happen if we made the same commitment to difficult relationships and undisciplined people as we do the new puppy at home. Do we cast them off when they do not get it or continually mess up? Do we become tired of cleaning up their messes? Paying the price to care for them? The breach in relationships of the church and empowerment of people may be evidence that there is some work to do in this area.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It is not always the easiest route but certain the most worthwhile highway to be taken. “Since” God chose you to be His Child, it is our responsibility to clothe our life with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” This is not such an easy task. When I stayed home with the children, I had the time and energy to invest in dog training but now with a full-time job and other duties I am a bit overwhelmed. I am committed. I want to make it work. I wonder if I can say the same about my commitment to people. Not those easy to love, but those who may be a bit more difficult to endure. Am I tenderhearted? Am I merciful? Am I kind? Do I remain humbly engaged? Am I gentle with them? Am I patient? These are the qualities of Christ that I should be giving to all people, just as Jesus did for us.
Matthew 5:44-48 (NLT) But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. When we do such a thing, it is to act as true Kingdom kids. However, how often do people not really engage in real relationships with their own family let alone loving the unlovable and praying for problematic people? God does not withhold the sun or rain from any person. He gives each the opportunity to plant and harvest. God does not have favorites. He loves His Children and desires those who are not just the same. The Grace given by Jesus makes us all His Beloved whether we accept Him or not. Kindness to our family and friends is to be expected but loving everyone can be a challenge. It takes a commitment to Christ and others that does not go back on its word. It is a life-long endeavor.
John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
The next few months should prove quite interesting for our family. Our newest family member has a lot to learn to become the pet that I believe she will be – a loyal and trusting companion. I have made the commitment to her. I have promised to give her the time and attention needed. The discipline and training required. The patience and love necessary to make her feel secure in our home. I wonder if I can say that same about people? Will I be a loyal friend and trusted companion to those the Lord has placed all around me? Will I make a commitment to love them unconditionally and provide grace for every insufficiency in our relationship> Will I be patient and loving? Encouraging? Will I be faithful to my commitment to Jesus Christ by loving them as He has loved me? Our new puppy is teaching me lessons from the moment she arrived. Reminding me of my commitment to Christ to love those who He loves and give my life away to them. Jesus help me. With this new little puppy for sure, but even more so with those around me. The people I encounter in each day of ordinary life. Let my love for them be extraordinary. May the commitment to Christ that I have made be evident in my care and concern for them. I hope to apprehend each enemy with so much love and grace that they cannot be an enemy any more. Jesus thank you for this lesson in love. I needed the reminder. Now about this dog…
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.