When It's Hard to Love

“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).

Sometimes we run into people who are just hard to love. Perhaps they have demonstrated aggressive behavior toward us or injured us in some way. We live and move in a loveless world, where people betray others and take advantage of them. Most of us would confess to not loving everyone equally, and to playing favorites. That is natural. But God calls us to demonstrate a supernatural love. How can we love others as God would have us to?

1. Do not consider whether someone is worthy of our love.
When we plan to make a purchase, we try to determine whether the price fits the value. We’re on the hunt for bargains. But when God calls us to love others, we cannot take that approach. No one is worthy of God’s love, including us. Yet God still loves us. He does not first place a value on us to determine whether or not we live up to His standards. He loves us because of who He is, not because of who we are. God loves the unlovely, and we can, too.

2. Do not think that you cannot love someone.
Because God’s love has been poured out to us, we now have the capacity to love others. A wingless bird cannot fly, nor can an ice cube survive in a heated oven. Birds need wings and ice needs cold. If we want to love others, we need God’s love reigning in us, otherwise we cannot hope to love others. We love because God’s love resides in our hearts. On our own, we cannot love others, but with Christ we can now love and do whatever He requires of us (Philippians 4:13).

3. Remove all hindrances to loving others.
Paul wrote of the need to love and forgive others (Ephesians 4:32). But just prior to this verse, he commands us to put off certain behaviors that snuff out love:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Note also the words of Peter:

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

When we indulge in sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). In order to love others, we need to confess sin and renew our hearts.

Sometimes it’s just hard to love others. But God makes all things possible through the abundant resources He provides us in Christ. Truly we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

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