(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Loving the Unlovable
By Zelda Dominguez
I’m reminded Valentine’s Day is approaching fast when I see greeting cards, stuffed animals, candy, etc. in the stores (all which are the cultures idea of love). But, is this a true depiction of authentic love?
I like to send cards but there are times I feel I can’t send that certain card because I don’t mean it. That person hurts me or doesn’t deserve what the card says. I don’t even like the person so why should I give them a card? If I’m keeping it real, what do I do? I think it’s more than just not sending the card. It requires a heart check.
Let’s look at what God’s word says.
“Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Matthew 22:37-39
So, what does it mean to love with all your heart, soul and mind? By putting them all together the commandment tells us we are to love God with all our being. Jesus emphasized that loving God is the most important.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
– 1John 4:16)
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
– John 15:12
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
– Romans 12:10
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16
Have you tried to love certain individuals but it’s just too hard, you’re not feeling it, or you just refuse? Often when we try to love and we fail time and time again. Then, all we are left with is guilt and frustration, bitterness or anger. Human love is conditional, and unfortunately, most of the time the love that we have to give out to others is conditional. It’s easy to love those that love us back.
Remember I mentioned the heart check? The problem is that we are trying to love them ourselves when we should be receiving our love from God so we can love them. The secret to loving the unlovable is to let God fill our love account with His love. “We love, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). Without a personal relationship with Christ, we cannot truly love others in the way He calls us to. We must examine our own heart. If we find sin, we need to repent and allow God to cleanse our hearts and fill us with His Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 4:32, we are commanded to forgive others as God forgave us. Forgiving people doesn’t mean condoning their actions, it means letting go of your bitterness or resentment and handing it over to God. Forgiveness changes our own heart and attitude and it allows us to move forward and be right with God.
What if that difficult to love person is in your family (or even more hard to swallow) is married to you? Then what? Ephesians 5:1, 2 says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.” We cannot live a life of love unless we know that Christ loves us. When we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, pleasing Him becomes our priority. As we seek to honor Him in our lives, He increases our desire and capacity to love. Christ’s love is based on a decision not a feeling.
Remember that all people are created in God’s image and He loves even that person you see as unlovable. So, we can be a vessel of God’s love. And another thing to remember for those of you who are Christ followers is that we were once unlovable too.
In the Bible there are people that loved those who were difficult to love. Here are a few examples.
Esau: Brother stole his birthright.
Jacob: His father-in-law deceived him.
Joseph: Loved his brothers although they desired to kill him and left him for dead.
Moses: Loved the children of Israel whom he led out of slavery even if they complained and had his siblings backbite him.
Ruth: A widow and foreigner who continued to love her mother-in-law even when she tried to send her away.
David: A man after Gods heart. Continued to love and honor King Saul after various attempts he made to kill David.
Abigail: She served as her husband’s intercessor who was labeled “a fool.”
Job: Had a contentious wife and friends who were accusatory.
Hosea: Loved his wife who was a prostitute, an adulteress, and had a child from someone else.
Jesus: Our greatest example who was mocked, ridiculed, betrayed, beaten, persecuted, suffered and crucified because of His great love for us. While on the cross He said, “Forgive them (those who did that to Him) for they do not know what they do.”
And if Jesus did it, He can help us do it too!