Since it’s almost Valentine’s day, I have been thinking a lot about love, and how I wish I loved and cared about people more deeply. We all have people that we enjoy loving, relationships that we feel are worth our time to invest in, mainly because those people love and are investing in us. We tend to like that, a 50-50 kind of love. Well God has really been speaking to me recently about loving the people that I don’t want to. These thoughts have been really challenging to me and I hope they are to you too.
I was talking to two of my dear friends, Brie and Colleen, recently about this very topic, loving people who are hard to love. I’m sure we’ve all heard sermons on passages like Mark 12:31 “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself…” but it’s so easy to take this command lightly, for me anyway. Now I’m not even necessarily talking about loving your sworn enemies. Scripture is very clear on that command as well Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” but I’m also talking about people that maybe just irritate you or they’re a little bit snobby or selfish and you would just rather not invest the time in them so you ignore them and instead spend all your time with the people that love you back.
I’m sure by now you can think of someone or several people that fall into this category for you, they could even be your enemy by having hurt you or hurt someone you love. Maybe you’ve even realized your lack of love and are disgusted by it but don’t really know how to make the effort to change. That is where I am at. I’ve been making excuses for why I don’t need to love these people or spend any time investing in their lives. While I was talking to my afore mentioned friends, (who by the way are two very easy people to love) God hit me with a few thoughts and this is what I would like to share.
First, I realized that when I tried to love these people with my own sinful heart I was of course going about it the wrong way. I was trying to love them based off of their merit for my love. When I think of loving my husband it’s very easy for me to want to love him because I can think of several little things he did just today to show me that he loves me. It’s the same way with all the friends I hold dear. These other people I’m thinking of don’t ever do anything nice for me. What I realized was that it’s ok to recognize that these people do not merit my love. They are totally undeserving, they have done nothing to invest in me or show me they care. In fact they may have even hurt me deeply. Just realizing this helped me switch my gears to realize in a sense these people are my enemies.
My follow up thought to that was naturally the verse I quoted above (Matthew 5:44.) We are called to love our enemies. Why? Because that’s exactly what God did for us. We were His enemies by sin. Romans 5:6-10 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” We were completely undeserving of His love and yet, He has loved us. We are the most undeserving creatures of His love, and he has loved us more than anyone has ever loved another. This is how He loves me and you. Wow, how completely comforting, satisfying and humbling.
My final thought from all this is; we cannot love those who wrong us (and at some point everyone will) only when they deserve it which is all our sinful love has to give. We cannot truly love another person without God’s love beating in our hearts. So what do I do about that? I can’t just wake up and decide to love my enemy supernaturally. I can’t do anything beautiful apart from God. I can wake up every morning and remember that I was supposed to be God’s worst enemy and that He loved me anyway, fully and completely asking nothing in return and I can beg Him to give me the grace to love all people with that same love.
We love feedback. If you have any thoughts or questions about this or if you’ve never heard about or personally understood God’s love for you, I would love to hear from you. You can either leave a comment or message us.
P.S. If you want some homework read Matthew 18:21-35 (parable of the unmerciful servant)