Loving the Unlovable

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Who gets on your nerves? Who has a personality that bugs you? What “type” of person does your heart get most angered and annoyed by? What person in your life seems most difficult to love?

Jesus’ teaching urges us to love our enemies. He said, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:32, 35).

This command goes against the grain of our hearts. When someone hurts us, our automatic response is to want to hurt them back, to make them feel the pain that we are experiencing. So is it really possible to wish good on someone who hurts our feelings? On someone who bugs us? To a friend who has betrayed us? Is it possible to love like Jesus tells us to?

Guess what? It’s NOT possible! We cannot summon up warm feelings and loving actions in our own strength. We cannot treat another kindly when they really get on our nerves. Those feelings don’t naturally spring forth from our hearts, and we surely can’t manufacture them ourselves.

But, they do overflow from God’s heart. In his kindness, he treats us like friends when we have acted like enemies. We have disobeyed him, worshiped ourselves and our desires more than him, told lies, betrayed him, and dishonored him, BUT he treats us as friends. Through Jesus accepting punishment worthy of an enemy, he gave us freedom from punishment. He made a way for God to continue loving us, despite our struggles and frequent failures in the face of sin.

Only when we stop to consider how God treats us–coming after us when we were still sinning–can we truly love our enemies. God sent Jesus to take our punishment for acting like enemies. When we meditate on God’s response to us when we act like enemies, our hearts soften.

In his goodness, he moves our hearts to ask him for help in loving those people who feel like enemies. By his grace, he helps us love those that seem unlovable. We cannot produce this love on our own. His grace to us becomes the source of our grace to others.

For Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:9

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