I have the privilege of getting to work with young adults who find themselves at a very vulnerable place and stage in life. Part of my job is to help guide and direct them to their specific goals, and support them with the emotional, spiritual, and actual physical needs they have to get there.
If I'm not careful, it becomes incredibly easy to take the failures of those kids on as my own. When they don't meet their goals, or they veer off the path- all it takes is one little detour and their whole futures can be at stake. That, as you can imagine, puts an incredibly heavy weight on my shoulders. If I'm not careful, it could be easy to begin measuring my own worth by their successes and failures; to measure my investment into them by the initial returns that I can see.
If you are anything like me, I've found that some relationships are ones that yield a high return, and some... well some I can see little to none on. It's easy to begin looking at people through the lens of return. We begin asking the questions "Who can do the most for me?" or "Who can I connect with that will elevate me?" The famous one is, "Who will make me look better?" In other words, who's going to give me a return on my efforts?!
Yet, God NEVER asks us to view people through what they can GIVE to us. Quite the contrary... God has always viewed us through the lens of UN-conditional love. In fact, there's really no return that we can give Him that will ever fully cover what He's paid for us. Not only do we not give him a return... we can't even pay back the initial investment!
God's backwards investment has completely changed how I view myself, and other people. There is a Hebrew word that the Bible uses to explain God's love by the name of "Hesed." Hesed is typically used to describe the word love, but as you know, that word can mean so many things. When love is used in the Bible in the Greek term Hesed, it means an unrelenting, unfailing duty to give "undeserved kindness or generosity." (J. Oswalt) Another way to describe this would be my babies. When I had them, they had done NOTHING to deserve my kindness or generosity, but for some reason, I want to give up my money, my freedom, my time to enrich THEIR lives. I have a duty (which I love) to give everything up for them. Right now, I can't fully know where my investment will land them later in life.
As I was thinking about this, I felt God whisper this question to me... Are you willing to invest your life into something/someone that may NEVER yield a return? Someone who has done nothing to deserve your kindness or generosity? Will you only invest and believe in your ultimate worth by what others produce back for you? This ends up being the opposite of what God did for us, and I believe WANTS us to do.
It's a crazy hard thing to process, but what if instead of only giving love to people who deserve it, we give it to those who haven't earned it? A few examples I can think of in our modern day lingo are the disabled, foster kids, widows, and sometimes simply that crazy neighbor, the over-talker, or the awkward person you avoid.
Lately I feel God asking me truly and deeply are you ready to love people the way I've loved YOU? The truth is, if I TRULY love like Jesus and invest into those who can give me nothing... I've invested into something FAR MORE VALUABLE than money, fame or position can ever buy.
If I invest this way, I've gained a deeper understanding of God's heart for me & beautiful relationships that transcend my superficial wants.
That is the BEST investment I can ever make. Today, I encourage you to join me in the pursuit to invest into some people that may never be able to pay you back; people who may never show a return. Invest into people who will make you more like Jesus- THAT can never be taken from you.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose. - J. Elliot