Yesterday I took my grandson, Issac, out shopping for his 5th birthday. I love to hear Issac talk — he says hilarious things — so I was prepared to ask him several questions.
“Issac,” I began, “tell me about your friends.”
“What do you mean? I don’t know what you’re asking me,” he responded. (I love the honesty of children!)
“Well, just start by telling me their names.”
“Their names are Daddy, Mommy, Samuel and Josiah. Josiah is my cute little baby,” he responded. Glad he introduced Granma to his little brother! (Note: Josiah is not a baby at age two, but compared to Issac, who is quite tall for his age and estimated to grow to about 6’10”, he probably seems like a baby.)
My heart warmed that he so quickly named his family as his friends. Yet I quickly remembered our recent family vacation….
Sam (6) and Danae (their 4-year-old cousin) were playing with Issac in a bedroom near the beach house family room. Suddenly we heard loud screams followed by Sam and Issac tumbling from the bedroom in a fight. Just feet from a group of aunts, uncles and grandparents Issac body slammed his older (but smaller) brother onto the carpet to Sam’s screaming protests. It took three adults to break up the fight and restrain Issac.
How is it that a little boy who just weeks earlier had erupted in anger toward his brother was now listing him as one of his four best friends? I think Issac knows something grown ups like me need to better understand: love covers a multitude of sin.
Last Sunday Issac’s dad, Jesse, preached at Redeemer Church on becoming a Community of Courage. Using the Hebrews 10:19-25 passage about the importance of encouragement (you can listen to the message here) he made the point that while it’s important that we know that God is for us, others also need to know that we are for them.
“Nobody is too sinful or immature to handle your faith for them,” Jesse said. These words have been churning around in my mind since Sunday morning.
Issac understands that just because he beats up his brother for hitting him on the head with a wooden spoon, it doesn’t mean they’re not friends. In his young heart he knows that being brothers means that even if the fighting gets ugly you’ll still love each other. Sam hit his brother because Issac pushed their cousin, Danae. While hitting Issac wasn’t the answer, Jesse rightly commended his son for sticking up for a little girl.
Even Sam attacking his brother — resulting in Issac body slamming him in return — didn’t destroy their brotherly love.
Is there a cherished relationship in your life where fighting, hurtful words, or anger has tempted you to lack faith that God can repair the damage? Do you find yourself wanting to sin back to protect yourself from the painful attacks of someone you love? Have your own anger and bitterness caused what you think may be irreparable damage to a relationship you’ve worked hard to build? Have you taken up an offense because someone hurt another person you love?
It’s true. No person is too sinful or immature to handle your faith for them. Why? Because “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus didn’t wait until we got cleaned up to die for us. Rather, He demonstrated His love and faith for us while we were dead in sin; unable to love Him back; ungodly and without hope that we could ever have a relationship with holiness.
We weren’t too sinful or immature to be loved by Him.
Rather than retaliate, He loved. Instead of hitting back, He took strike after blood-producing strike so we wouldn’t have to. His own body was slammed onto the cross so we would never be afraid of His vengeful retaliation.
And because He forever made the way for a holy God and sinful people like you and me to have a loving relationship, we can trust Him to do the lesser thing of helping us have faith for even the most sinful, immature people in our lives.
Perhaps the person you’re thinking of right now has hurt you badly. Reconciliation doesn’t always mean restoration. Sometimes sins can be so heinous that the relationship can’t and shouldn’t ever be the same. But for most of us, that’s not the case. Most of my relational challenges are more like Sam and Issac’s. Normal, every day life happens and hurtful words or actions on my part on someone else’s makes us want to lash back.
I was challenged by Issac’s words yesterday. You see, I saw the fight. I sat with Issac back in the bedroom talking him through his angry reaction at his brother until Dad and Mom got back to resolve everything.
I want to help create a community of courage where faith and encouragement flow freely to even the most sinful and immature. After all, that’s what God did for me.
Thanks for your example, Issac. And happy birthday!