Loving Those Who are Less Than Lovely
Ahhh, isn't love a beautiful thing? Naturally, you love those who are connected to you. You love our spouse, children, family and friends. You may even have love for human beings in general. Well, when it comes to loving people, you are in good standing with God, right?
I mean obviously we all love everyone that loves us, that is simple enough, right? Wrong! Man, every time we think we are doing well in an area God sure does give us a reality check! Matthew 5:46-48 (GW) says If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that! Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that! That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. God wants us to love everyone, even those who are difficult and unloving towards us.
Yes, that includes your moody boss, your church "friends" who are, at times, anything but friendly, that sneaky co-worker, and that one rude family member. Oh, the list goes on...HE wants us to extend love to our defiant stepchildren, that spiteful ex, the waiter with the nasty attitude, and even the grumpy person in the drive-thru window. Come on! God, you are asking a lot of us!
I know you are thinking that seems way too hard! Love is more than a feeling; love takes work. You may truly have to work at loving those who are less than lovely. I get it, I'm right there with you. At times, it just seems impossible. If only they were lovely and more pleasant then of course we would be loving to them. Jesus quickly pricks our hearts and says, "even corrupt tax collectors do that." In other words, is that really enough. Is Jesus displayed when we are only nice to nice people? You may be thinking, well, I'm not rude to people who are not loving to me, I just ignore them. I'm only friendly to people who are friendly to me! Have you said that before? Shhhh, listen, Jesus is speaking to our hearts again. He is reminding us that even the unjust (ungodly) do that. Are we going to be any different?
So, what do we do? If we are going to be more like Jesus, how do we deal with people who are less than lovely to us?
God gives us the formula in this same chapter of Matthew. In verse 44, we are instructed to love them and pray for them. When Jesus talks about praying for them, He is not talking about prayers like, 'Lord, I pray you punish so-and-so for being so evil.' No! He's talking about genuine prayers for their souls, prayers that they may seek to know Christ personally, prayers for their family members, and/or prayers for what might be causing them pain. That is truly loving people with the Jesus kind of love. Then, just continually extending kindness to the individual whether it is reciprocated or not (vs. 47). If you are kind to them and they keep being ugly to you, keep demonstrating the love of Jesus in your interactions with them. As you feel your anger rising and your patience wearing out, remind yourself that you are doing it for Jesus and you are more like your Father in Heaven. Let Him heal your soul!
Your Sister in Christ,
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help us to love all those we come in contact with. When people are hard to love, send your power through us to love them anyway. In Jesus' Name, Amen.