“Hurt people hurt people.” Most of us have heard this phrase before, and its meaning is pretty clear. When someone has unresolved pain in their lives—childhood wounds, chronic disappointment with life circumstances, or even a nagging memory of their own failings—it will eventually get dumped out onto those who are closest to them.
But, have you ever considered the truth of the following statement? “Loved people love people.” Scripture tells us that “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Loved people love people.
If you’re having trouble loving others, especially your spouse, could it be because it’s been too long since you reflected upon God’s amazing love for you? The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is full of stories of God’s love and compassion for the people He has made.
He clothed Adam and Eve when their own sin had brought them sorrow and shame (Gen. 3:21).
He provided a ram to take the place of Isaac when He had asked Abraham to sacrifice him (Gen. 22)—a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross.
He forgave and restored David after his grievous sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:13, Ps. 51:1-2).
And there are countless other accounts in Scripture of those who deserved judgment but instead received mercy, those who wandered far from God but received grace.
Jesus told a parable we typically call “The Prodigal Son” in Luke 15. Something struck me as I read this recently that I don’t think I had ever noticed before. In the version I was reading (NIV), it says in verse 20, upon the rebellious son’s return, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
He threw his arms around him.
He threw his arms around him. This is not the picture of a man who was embarrassed by his son’s behavior and wanted to maintain his own dignity. This was not a man who planned to hold his son’s failings over his head for weeks or months on end until he showed the proper contrition. This was not a man who cared that others, including his older son, thought he was “crazy” for accepting this rebel back into the family.
This was a father who ONLY felt love and compassion for his son who was once lost and had been found, who was dead but was alive again. And in telling this story, Jesus wanted us to understand that this is the nature and character of our Heavenly Father.
The power of forgiveness in marriage.
Our God has the same love and compassion for each one of us! If we saw Him face-to-face right now, He would throw His arms around us—basically tackle us—and not let go. In the presence of that kind of love, is it possible for it not to leak out of us onto others?
Sometime this week, take a few moments to look up references in Scripture to God’s love and compassion. Let those truths sink deep into your spirit. Then ask God how He would like you to spread His love and compassion to—and maybe even throw your arms around—the person He has given you to spend this life with.
Jennifer Bell has been married to her high school sweetheart, Brant, for 30 years. They’ve raised three sons and one daughter to adulthood, and are still best friends. She recently became “Mimi” to a new grandson, Elijah. She enjoys being part of the worship team at church, reading, and spending time with her book club friends, and just hanging out with her family in Franklin, TN.