“I’m not supposed to say a student is unlovely!” I know that’s not the politically correct term when talking about a student, but we all think it and feel it. “I can’t stand that kid!” has gone through my mind too often in the classroom. I can think seemingly good thoughts: “Oh, I wish he would change!” But those thoughts normally are centered on me and my wants, so they are more selfish than helpful. I am very eager for students to change, yet my eagerness hardly ever pours over into prayer for them.

I am going to talk about two verses in Scripture. I hope they help us sit down and pray that God strengthen us to walk in them.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Why did I pick these two verses?

I picked these verses because one deals with who we are and what freely has been given to us. The other deals with how, in light of what has freely been given to us, we should relate to other sinners.

I use the word sinners because that is what the Bible says we are. We are called many things, such as sinner, ungodly, vile, unclean, etc. The Bible describes us as incredibly weak. As sinners, we sin and can do no more. Even on our best days, in our greatest good that we do sin in intermingled in with our efforts.

For example, when I was growing up, my family and I would go to the American Legion on Thanksgiving and help serve people who couldn’t afford a meal or who didn’t have family nearby. Serving them was a good thing, right? Serving is good, but much of my desire to serve people was about me wanting to feel good about myself and wanting others to think highly of me. I was the center, not God. Sin is intermingled with everything we do. We are weak, feeble creatures.

So, “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Jesus Christ, God in flesh, suffered the wrath of God against sin for me and all who believe in Him. Notice what the Apostle Paul says: “Christ died for the incredibly well-mannered!” What? Is that what he says? Does he say, “Christ died for those who have a lot of self-esteem”? No. Does he say, “Christ died for those who appreciate their education and listen to their teachers”? No. What does he say? “Christ died for the ungodly”! Do not read that last word too quickly.  Our God, to whom angels fall before and cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” is the same God who died for the ungodly! That’s us! That’s your kids, your youth group, your students!

I think much grief can be shaken off quickly if Christian teachers would remember Christ died for the ungodly. What a privilege we have to be a part of His work for these ungodly and unlovely students we may be with each day. He died for them! Christ died for the student who is disobedient constantly. Christ died for the kid who curses you out everyday. Christ died for the student who threatens other students. Christ died for them.

Love is patient!

In light of the fact that Christ died for sinners, let us be patient with our little sinner friends in our schools and youth groups. Consider how much like them we are: They are blind. Before Christ shined His light into our hearts, we were blind. They are dead in their sins. Before Christ said, “Come forth,” our souls lay in an ash-heap of death. Our students think they know a lot about life and how to live life. Because Christ opened our eyes to see that apart from His light shining in our paths to show us what true life is, our thoughts were just like theirs.

In myself, I am not different from a student who flips me off. The one major thing that separates the Christian from the non-Christian is the Christian has God as Father. This is because of the love God has for sinful people. We are sinful, yet how impatient we are with the sins of others. If we want to love our students genuinely and truly be patient with them in a way that honors God, we must start and finish with the gospel. I can be patient with a student only when I remember he or she is a sinner; I’m a sinner; and Christ died for sinners. How can I not be patient with him or her in light of that fact?

Keep in mind that patience is not passivity. Whereas passivity can say, “Whatever!” patience is set on suffering much and surrendering to God’s timing and will.

God did not surrender. He did not give up on us. When I was weak, He died for me. He didn’t wait until I “came around” before He saved me. Let us have that same heart for our students.

Oh God, we need Your help. Help us have hearts that are patient, that do not give up on these students You have given us. Help us remember we are sinners like our students are sinners. We are not better than they are in Your eyes. Give us an understanding and patience in light of that. Love is patient, so we pray help us to love our students and grow in genuine, heart-felt patience toward them. In Your name, Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen!

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