hat comes to mind when you think of the word love? I think it’s safe to say that for most people, the word love brings to mind our spouse or significant other, family, friends, people we admire or people who are just plain adorable. Those types of love – romantic love, familial love and friendship love are indeed beautiful and important. But when we look at this world we live in, and how things like selfishness, indifference or hate have caused so many problems – how does loving only those in our circle change anything? How will there ever be reconciliation and peace in a world where people only love their friends or those who are easy to love? Things won’t change unless we love even the unlovable, and practice a different kind of love, the kind that God teaches us to practice – a selfless, sacrificial love. God’s love. Otherwise known as Agape.
If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.
Matthew 5:47 (MSG)
I might be preaching to the choir here, for those who know the bible and obey Jesus. But even Christians sometimes need a reminder to love those who are difficult to love. Or we need a reminder on how we can love people who are difficult to love. Here are seven ways to love the unlovable. To make these easier to remember, I ordered them into the acronym UPLIFTS.
why they act the way they do by considering their background and life experiences. Sadly, negative events or the way a person was raised can shape people negatively. Like the old saying goes, you can’t really understand someone fully until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Also keep in mind that all human beings are fallible, and we all have our own weaknesses or faults.
Pray for them.
This, of course, is what Jesus tells us
to do. And it really is amazing how praying for someone or something causes our own heart
to change for that person or issue. When we sincerely pray for someone, we begin to have a heart for that person, a true concern for their well-being and a desire for their highest good. It may be difficult, at first, to pray for a mean or unlovable person. But prayer is exactly what a person like that needs, don’t you think? And remember, God can work miracles, so don’t give up on someone or write them off as hopeless.
Look at them through God’s eyes
What do I mean by that? As I mentioned before, sometimes certain experiences in a person’s life change who they really are, or harden their heart. Everyone has an original design
– qualities and gifts that God gave us when He created us. Unfortunately, when a person is wounded or broken, they aren’t walking in their original design. So try looking at people through God’s eyes, and see the person God created, rather than the hardened person they have become.
Impart God’s love and grace.
We all know how difficult it can be to love certain people. This is where we need to choose to love them, with God’s love. 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. This is what changes hearts and wins people for God. It is God’s goodness and kindness that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4
), not arguments, lectures or “punishing” people by the way we treat them. So if you want that unlovable person to change, a good start is to love them with God’s love.
Yes, it can be very difficult to forgive people who have hurt us. But do you really want to live with anger, bitterness and resentment? As Christians, we are commanded to forgive others, as God forgave us. (Eph 4:32
) Keep in mind, forgiving people doesn’t mean condoning their actions. It means letting go of your bitterness and resentment toward that person, or a desire for revenge, and handing it over to God. Let God do His job. Forgiveness changes our own
heart and attitude and it allows us to move forward and be right with God.
Treat them the way you like people to treat you.
This is another action that changes hearts. Treating an unlikeable person the way you like to be treated has a way of changing the spiritual atmosphere, instead of continuing the cycle of negativity. This goes along with operating in the opposite spirit, as I talked about in a previous post
. Even if you feel they don’t deserve kindness, treating them the way you like to be treated or moving in the opposite spirit plants a seed with people, and sometimes causes them to rethink their own actions, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction. Imagine a world where everyone practiced the Golden Rule
. We can start by practicing it ourselves.
“Serve them?” you ask. “Are you crazy, I don’t even like being around this person!” Yes, serve them, the way Jesus served others, which teaches us about love and humility. Serving someone is one way of showing love, and a sincere act of servanthood can soften hearts and plant a seed with people, that can later grow.
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, touched lepers and showed love to the kinds of people that others shunned. If the living God of the universe is humble enough to do those things, then how can we be above serving an unlovable person?
Serving someone can mean a variety of things, it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as simple as helping your neighbor carry the groceries out of their car, or doing the dishes for that unlikeable relative after dinner. Also, as Jesus set an example for us, we in turn set an example for others, through our actions.
I hope this was helpful and inspiring for anyone who wants to mend a relationship with someone, or love that person who is hard to love. I also would love to hear your comments, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.
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