Loving The Unlovables

Perhaps you, like me, have worked around or with or among difficult and, frankly, unlovable people. There have been times when I too have behaved towards others in a difficult and unlovable way.

It is relatively easy to love those who are kind and happy — those who love us. It is quite another story to love those who make it difficult to love them. And why should we? Why does it matter who we love?

There is way more to life than just working to live – right? The greatest reason to work at all is to show God’s love towards others around us. When we do anything out of love, this is what really pleases God. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing the right thing but for the wrong reason(s). God says we don’t get any credit for this type of behavior, and He’s instead more interested in why we do what we do.

1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Do all your work in love”.

This type of love is directed towards those around us, whether that’s at home or work or elsewhere in random places. When life becomes challenging, hard, and difficult, it’s God’s love that keeps us going when we feel like quitting or walking away, and it’s God’s love that helps us love others when our own life is so difficult.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “We remember before our God and Father how you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard”.

It turns out that God’s love is the ultimate motivation throughout life for each of us. No doubt we must deal with all kinds of people. This includes people’s dishonesty, grumpiness, self-centeredness, patronizing, and the list goes on. In other words, at times, we are surrounded by people that we just really don’t care to be around and really don’t like. Nonetheless, God wants us to grow and prosper in His love. So, if we’re going to mature spiritually, it means we are going to have to learn to love all people. Yes, everyone. Including those whom we really don’t care for.

How can anyone accomplish that?

Romans 12:16-18 says, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”.

I chose this topic as I am a work in progress on this subject matter, and do not remotely have this mastered yet.  Here are some suggestions that I hope will be as helpful to you as they are to me:

  • Be open minded to other ideas and opinions.
  • Try and treat each person you encounter throughout every day, with kindness.
  • Work happily alongside those around you. Be intentional about this. Choose it.
  • Respond to challenges, delays, and criticism with grace, forgiveness, and choose your responses and replies carefully. (I must wait until I’ve first settled down a bit.)
  • Do all you can, always, to live at peace with everyone.  
  • Ultimately, do all things, in His love.

In summary, our culture today teaches us that unlovable people should be treated accordingly because they deserve it. Don’t buy into this! Jesus has a different way. We are to love our enemies and are to love the unlovable…

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are abusive to you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.” — Luke 6:27-28

As humans we all tend to associate only with people whose worldviews agree with our own. This is comfortable and natural for each of us. However, as Christians we are called to interact in goodness with those having all kinds of differing worldviews: believers and unbelievers, good people and bad. We’re not to condone inappropriate behavior, nor compromise our faith to get along with these people. Instead, rather than isolating ourselves from them, we are called to interact with people whose worldviews disagree with ours in ways that reflect the image of Christ. “Doing the right thing” as found in James 4:17 comes to mind and means doing what is pleasing to God the Father.

Whenever we are attacked by others, it’s natural and easy to want to respond in kind but this is the opposite of how we, as believers, are called to respond. This isn’t just tough to do but it seems downright impossible at times.

What this means is to stand firm in the power of Christ, and perhaps convince others there’s a better way. This means treating others with honesty, forthrightness, and kindness. We are to seek collaboration, cooperation, and mutual respect in others.

1 Corinthians 13 shows us 9 characteristics of the type of love we are to demonstrate towards others:

  • Long-suffering (but no whining about it)
  • Kindness in abundance
  • Not jealous or envious
  • Not boastful
  • Not arrogant
  • Becoming in our actions
  • Seeks the good of others rather than seeking our own
  • Not provokable
  • Keeps no records of wrongdoing by others 

The best way to love these unlovable people is to refuse to participate in their sinful behavior, and to show them a better way by setting a consistent Christ-like example. It’s way tougher for people to treat us poorly when we treat them with love. In other words, we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. So worth remembering.

Please join me as we are each called to feed our enemies if they are hungry and give them water if they are thirsty… pray for them. Let’s agree to intentionally choose to love the unlovable, as we too have been unlovable and are forgiven.

 

Jean Hausheer MD 

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