Written By Jeremy Larson, USA
Loving some people can be hard, especially when they’re unlovable. But that doesn’t mean we can just shrug our shoulders and shrug off our responsibility. It’s been said that we are the only Jesus people see. So we need to be a light to the world—and that only happens by love.
These are three lessons I’ve learned on how to love people.
1. We cannot love others until we love God.
We cannot give what we do not have. Instead of trying to love others with our own strength, we first need to love Christ—and know His love for us. Love for others can then flow genuinely and naturally. Our relationship with God has to take the top priority in our lives.
2. We need to love others just as Jesus did.
Jesus conquered the world through love, and we too are to reach out to others with love. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love doesn’t mean being all nice, polite, and politically correct. It is to respect and value people, and to be truly concerned about them, their lives, and their eternal destination. This kind of love is founded on truth and manifests in practical ways.
French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte observed the key difference between Jesus’ empire and that of other conquerors:
“Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded great empires; but on what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him . . . I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; no one else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man . . . All who sincerely believe in Him experience that remarkable supernatural love towards Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers.”
Now, with all that said, how do we actually accomplish such a lofty task of loving difficult people? That’s where the rubber meets the road, because people don’t see our intentions, only our actions and lives.
3. We need to look beyond people’s attitudes.
When we look at someone from a human standpoint, all we see is how mean, grumpy, or unlovable they may be.
It would be hard, if not impossible, to love difficult people when we view them from such a perspective. But we need to look beyond their attitudes. What looks like arrogance might actually be insecurity. What manifests as anger might probably be caused by pain or depression (I know I’m guilty of being in this category at times). The bottom line is that we don’t know what a person might be going through or why they behave the way they do.
Another thing we must keep in mind is how much God values them. God loves people and wants to see them saved. And we have clearly been told to share His word and make disciples of all nations. We all need help. Where would we be without the help and prayers of others?
And that’s what other people need as well—someone else to help them. While the reality is that some people will reject God’s love, there is a group that needs help to see the truth. They need to be loved, and led into the truth and a saving relationship with Christ. And since we don’t know who belongs to which group, it is our duty to share the gospel with all and to love all.
Some of the most unlovable people I know have become wonderful and faithful children of God. Years ago, I was working with three other guys, one of them absolutely hated God; he constantly blamed God for his hurts and bitterness. One time, I wasn’t even going to include this individual when I was praying for my co-workers. I almost wrote him off as a lost cause. Yet I felt the Lord urge me to include his name. In the end, guess which of the three guys ended up becoming an on-fire Christian?
We are called to love all—even the unlovable. And while we won’t be perfect, we can love in a way that honors God. We can be a light to others, and truly make a difference in the lives of those around us.