Loving Those Different From Us

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).

"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

When we go to a buffet, we encounter all different types of food. As we browse the food, we choose food that appeals to us, not food we know we would not enjoy. Similarly, when we consider a car to buy, we look for one that appeals to us, assuming we can afford it. When young people consider a career, they pursue a career that’s attractive to them, not one that would make them miserable.

These principles carry over into our relationships, and that can be unfortunate. We look for people to befriend who are “just like us.” They share our interests and come from a similar background. But Jesus taught us to consider those not like us. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus pointed out the good qualities of one who was not like “one of us” (see Luke 10:25-37). The crowd would have dismissed the Samaritan, but Jesus taught them not to overlook those people.

So how can we love those who are different from us?

1. Recognize that love comes from God.
In the verses above, we read that “God is love.” God’s very nature radiates love, as well as His other qualities. Since God is the source of all love, we go to Him to ask for a loving heart. The love does not come from our own nature, but from God, who fills His children with His love:

“. . . and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

When we come to know God, He gives us the capacity to love others, even those we might not have otherwise even thought of loving.

2. Recognize that we are different to other people.
When we hear people say that other people are “different,” sometimes that’s code for, “not normal.” But what’s normal to us may be far from normal to others. We are all different to some, but God commands us to love them as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). In fact, we should never discriminate in who we love because God loves people from every conceivable background.

3. Pray for a loving heart that reaches out.
Since God supplies us with love, we need to reach out with the love of Christ to those around us. Because God loves us, we need to share that love with a lost world. Take a moment and ask God how He could use you today.

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