Have you ever noticed that we love people for their faults and not their achievements? We might be impressed when someone sets a new world record, but we don’t love him for it. We might admire someone’s new face lift or promotion or increased salary, but we don’t love her for it. We might respect a person for writing a book or getting a degree or making a million, but we don’t love them for it. We might admire their achievement and wish we could do it, but we don’t love them for having done it.
In fact, in the face of another’s achievement we very often don’t respect or admire them either. We are either jealous of their achievement, or we look down on them for showing off. We suspect their achievment was at someone else’s cost or think they might have made the grade simply to be better than other people, or to win their approval.
If we’re not that impressed with the achievements of other people, neither are we impressed with their achieved virtues. Do we really respect and admire others who have done great and wonderful things for others? Do you admire philanthropists and self righteous politicians and other sorts of do gooders? I don’t.
Do we even love people for their natural gifts, their abilities, their beauty or their talent? I don’t think so. We may admire them for their gifts, but we don’t love them, and even if we do think we love them for their gifts, we soon realize that, if we love them, its not actually because they play the piano or paint pictures or play golf or have a beautiful face. We love people for something else:
The simple and wonderfully upside down truth is that we love people, not for their strengths but for their faults. What endears a person to us most? Their humility, their vulnerability, their silly sad weaknesses–their humanity. What we love about a person is not their perfect face, but the goofy way their face wrinkles into a grin. We might love it when they cook a perfect meal, but we love them when they burn the supper again. When they do it’s maddening (because we were hungry and wanted a good meal) but it is also funny and hopeless and endearing because they are human and weak and it is their fallible humanity we love most. Who are you most able to love? The person who appears perfect and invulnerable or the poor fool who has failed and pulled the whole world over him with a smile? (excuse me ee)
And if we love one another most for our poor pitiful failures, think how much the Everlasting Father loves us. He looks on us with pity, not with blame. He knows our faults and looks on us with a sad, amused affection topped with mercy like Niagra.