There are a lot of people in this world who we can show love to without any problem. When we encounter those who are gracious, appreciative, and show love in return, it’s easy to be loving.
However, there are a few people in this world who make it difficult to love them….
- Those who set themselves up as our enemies.
- Those who disagree with us…and make a point of pointing that out.
- Those who shut us out.
- Those who are – by nature – angry, negative, or prone to complaining…and seem to feed those habits rather than fighting them.
We probably understand that loving others is important, but an inspection of several passages in the New Testament suggest that it is more than just a good thing to do. In fact, being unloving towards those around us is more serious than that.
For am example, see this summary from 1 John:
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
1 John 4:20-21 NASB
As a result, this is our challenge: to love those around us…whether they are lovable or not. The good news is that – as near as I can tell – the Bible doesn’t tell us to like our neighbor, even as it instructs us to love him or her.
Even when Jesus would condemn wrong behavior in others, I have to believe that He did so without being unloving. While I think that Jesus was likable (see Luke 2:52), there were some people in His life who were not.
By the way, while there are some passages in the Bible where it is difficult to tell whether it is referring to only men, or using a masculine term to refer to all people (as some languages have done), I think that we can safely consider this particular directive as applying to both men and women. Regardless of your gender, you should love others…regardless of their gender.
The book of Galatians stretches us further – even beyond loving those who share the same beliefs as us. While it may be easier to do good to those who are our “brothers and sisters” in Christ, we are called to do so to everyone.
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Galatians 6:10 NASB
(That is, for those who like loopholes, there isn’t much wiggle room in this directive.)
So, the next time God puts “that person” in your path, remember that he or she needs His love, too. After all, you’ve probably been an unlovable person (whether intentionally, accidentally, or just because you were worn down and tired) to someone else this week – someone who loved you, anyway. (And, if you haven’t been unlovable at all recently, that’s great! However, I’ve probably been unlovable enough for the both of us, despite my efforts to the contrary.)
Just remember: Love God. Love People. I can’t promise that it will be easy, but it is our calling.