Loving the People You Love to Hate

by Andy Wood on June 22, 2012

in Life Currency, Love, Since You Asked, Words

In my job I encounter a lot of difficult people in situations. I’m having a hard time seeing them in God’s eyes, so how do you love unlovable people?

Well, you’re already a step ahead of most people because you used the word “love” as a verb.  The reason most people have trouble loving difficult people is because to them “love” has something to do with a feeling, and they’re waiting around for the feelings to change.  All the while Stanley Steamroller is still on a roll right over you, or Oliver Obnoxious is still giving you all the reasons you should feel inferior.

Grrrrrr.  God loves you… but He doesn’t have to put up with you every day.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be on the other end of a frustrated phone call all day, every day?  Or to work at a Customer Service counter where, no matter who shows up, there’s a problem and they aren’t happy about it?

Can you imagine being a server in a busy restaurant on Sunday when the after-church crowd comes rolling in?

Oh.  Then there’s the bosses.  The coworkers.  The neglected or needy friends.  The family member.  And those are supposed to be for you!  I remember one place I used to live.  I didn’t have any enemies that I knew of.  My friends made me want to leave town.

How do you feel love for people like that?

Another problem with loving difficult people is that we tend to wait until we’re face-to-face with them before we head to the love dispenser.  By then it’s too late. If you aren’t actively engaging in showing love before you’re in their presence, it isn’t likely you’re going to have much to offer when you collide with them.

Ugh.  You mean I have to deal when them when they aren’t even around?

Of course.  Fact is, you already are.

A Word from Our Sponsor

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? (Matthew 5:43-47,NKJ).

Imagine you’re gazing at a long, meandering river. Sometimes it’s wide and large, other times it’s narrow and fast.  But either way, it’s headed somewhere – channeled by banks that guide the flow.  That’s how love – the real kind – is.  And three principles act as the banks to that river:

1.  The neighbor principle. Jesus said that even your enemy is your neighbor.  So pretty much, if they’re on the planet, they’re worthy of your love.

2.  The nature principle.  Love calls for consistency.  Are you just as consistent with showing love as the sun is in giving light, or the rain is in giving nourishment?  The rain doesn’t pick and choose favorites (though where I live, sometimes I wonder).  Neither should we.

3.  The supernatural principle:  Jesus actually assumed that His followers had the capacity to do things that unbelievers didn’t have.  What is there about your life and love that can only be explained by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit?

How Love Flows

Jesus said that our responsibility was to love even our enemies.  But that’s not natural.  How can we love someone that we resent, or are afraid of, or are angry with?  The first thing to recognize is that this was only intended for people who are in a vital love relationship with Jesus Himself.  The way to love the jerks is to love Jesus first!

Then, Jesus described three specific ways to express that love, and none of it has to do with feelings.  It’s all about action.

1.  Speak well of those who curse you.  Compliment them.  Agree with them whenever possible, and quickly.  That’s what it means to “bless” somebody.  Jesus understood that feelings follow words. You can literally speak your way into loving somebody.  You can also speak your way into hating them by criticizing, arguing, whining, or backbiting them.

2.  Do good to those who do evil to you.  Look for ways to show kindness to them.  Yeah, he may be the only one who criticizes the brownies you left in the break room for everybody.  Make his favorite tomorrow.  He’ll probably gripe about them, too.  It isn’t about impressing him – it’s about loving him.  Jesus understood that feelings follow actions.  Love keeps taking action, and trusts that the feelings will take care of themselves.

3.  Pray for those who persecute you.  Spend time praying for the people who are hostile to you.  If you work in one of those previously-mentioned fields where you deal with hostile strangers every day, pray in advance for them.  God knows who they are.  If possible, tell them you’ve been praying for them.  Prayer doesn’t just sic God on your enemies.  It puts you in touch with Someone who loves them already – unconditionally.

So.  Does that mean that if you love your enemies, if you bless those who curse you, if you do good to those who spitefully use you, and if you pray for those who persecute you, that they will change?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  But you will.

The world can be revolutionized by the love of God, expressed through you.  But it won’t be changed because you “fixed” somebody else.  It’ll be changed because you’re being changed – one love opportunity at a time.

 

(Have a question or a writing suggestion? Click on the “Have a Question?” link or email andy [at] lifevesting [dot] com.)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Heichel June 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm

There was a time (recently) when I wanted to render evil for evil. A certain classmate made a comment, but I kept my cool for the most part. On those days I’d love to stick icepicks in someone’s eyeballs, I’ve learned to take a breath, put myself in their shoes, prayed, and then DO THE RIGHT THING by not giving in to revenge.

I have to admit though, for a second I wondered what it would be like to wish the fleas of 1000 camels infest someones armpits. Until I find a way to do it in the way Jesus would, I’ll look to His Word first. 🙂

Sharon September 1, 2015 at 4:54 am

Thank you fo sharing your gift through writing. The message is always good and the humor makes my day!

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