What is the purpose of loving the unlovable people in our lives? Maybe it’s that neighbor whose dog is always barking at 6 am. Or possibly a co-worker who recently stepped on your toes for their gain. Perhaps it’s that woman at church who never has anything positive to say. It could be a family member who is impossible to please. Maybe it’s a friend who betrayed you.
Relationships can be hard. Loving difficult people can be so challenging, but by the power of His Spirit within us, we can do it!
And when we do, we display the power, glory, and love of our heavenly Father.
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What Does it Mean to Love the Unlovable
We had a guest come and speak at our church recently. He had some great quotes about loving difficult people. One of the things he said was so profound.
“People don’t determine how I treat people”.
Think about that for a sec.
So often we allow the way others speak to or treat us to determine how we will treat them.
We repay evil for evil. Harsh word for a harsh word. Ridicule for ridicule. This is not the way Jesus has commanded us to treat the people who mistreat us.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. – Matthew 5:38-42
It doesn’t matter how others treat me. The words and actions of others do not determine how I will treat them. Jesus gets to decide how I treat others.
As children of God, we treat others the way God tells us to.
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What God Says About Loving Difficult People
There are many Bible verses about loving the unlovable. God’s Word is clear. Here are a few of the reasons why we need to love others, including the difficult people in our lives.
God Tells Us To Love Our Enemies
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 mistreat you. – Luke 6:27-28 NASB
If for no other reason at all, we need to love the unlovable simply because God says so. There are moments in our relationships with certain people when we feel like it is impossible to love them. These are the times we must remember this command that God has given us to love our enemies. Then, lean on His grace and strength instead of on our feelings.
God Loves the Unlovable
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
We need to love the unlovable because that is what our Father has done for us. It was while we were still sinners that God sent Jesus. God did not send His Son to die for us while we were worthy of love, but rather when we were very unworthy. Loving difficult people is a way we can extend the same kindness and compassion that we have been given in Christ.
Loving Others Is Proof of God’s Presence
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. – 1 John 4:11-13
Love is the single greatest evidence that God is dwelling within us. If His Spirit is living within us, we will be bearing the fruit of love. As we love others, especially in the moments when it’s difficult for us to do so, we display His presence dwelling within us.
Loving the Unlovable Sets Us Apart
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. – Luke 6:32-33
We as children of God are to be a peculiar people. We should do things in a way that contrasts the ways of the world. That includes how we love others. If we only love the people who are loving towards us, we are not doing anything different than those who belong to the world.
God wants His people to be the light and salt of the world. He desires that we point others toward the love, grace, and mercy to be found in a relationship with Jesus. Therefore, we must be set apart! We must look differently, act differently, think differently, and love differently.
What Does It Mean to Love the Unlovable?
We understand why we need to love the unlovable, but how exactly are we to do this? What does this look like practically? Here are some ways to love your enemies.
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 mistreat you. – Luke 6:27-28
Do Good to Others
good – original word: kalós: well
To love the unlovable means to do good, or well, to others. Again, this is about offering to others what God has given us. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and give His life for the good of others. Are we willing to follow in His footsteps?
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. – 1 John 3:16-18
Bless Your Enemies
bless – original word: eulogeó: to speak well of, praise
God’s Word says to bless your enemies. This means that you speak highly of them. Instead of complaining about their words or their behavior, we compliment them and give a good report of them to others. We don’t engage in gossip! If we have nothing nice to say about the person, then we keep our mouths closed.
Pray For People
pray – original word: proseuchomai: to pray, I pray, pray for, offer prayer
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We need to pray for the difficult people in our lives. Pray is powerful! Prayer changes things! Including our hearts.
I have personally found that as I pray for people my attitude towards them begins to change. Compassion uproots bitterness. Forgiveness displaces anger.
This is where I want to end, but also where I want to encourage you to begin.
Is there someone, in particular, coming to mind as you consider these things? Let me encourage you to begin praying for that person. Ask the Lord to help you love the unlovable people in your life.
Then, watch God move.
Related Posts and Resources:
- Bible Studies for Women
- Bible Study Tips
- Bible Verses About Serving Others
- How to Use the Inductive Bible Study Method