If you could invite five people to dinner, who would you invite? Most would choose important, extraordinary and life changing people. But what if we took a radical change to this question and instead invited the last five people we’d ever have at our dinning table. What? Yes, these are the hard to get along with and difficult people to love. Let’s call them the unlovable.
We say they’re unlovable because of their race, culture, beliefs or predicament. Or, their financial status, the way they look or better yet their mistakes in life. Nevertheless, we find it difficult to love them. At times, we despise them and keep them out of our lives just to keep our own lives safe.
However, we must realize unlovable people thirst for friends just as we do. And, they have insecurities just like us. Moreover, they need forgiveness just as we do. With this in mind, how do we love the unlovable? I’m sure you’ll agree that having them at your dinning table would indeed require a higher degree of love. One that is far greater than our own.
Although we’re knowledgeable, it doesn’t mean we’ve applied well. Here is what the Bible tells us, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (Jn 13:17). This says we are blessed if we do them. Please understand that knowing and doing are very different from one another. So the question here is how can we convert knowing into action? And, especially when we don’t feel like it.
Naturally because we are humans our feelings change everyday. However, we need to base our actions with the word or God or the Bible. For the word of God never changes. We can do this by writing down our priorities according to the Word of God. Additionally, not allowing our feelings to change despite the circumstances. “Write the vision and make it plain so that those who read it may run” (Hab. 2:2).
So write your priorities down. God did. He wrote the 10 commandments in stone. And although Moses crashed them down, God had it written all over again. It is important that we see what we need to do even though we don’t feel like doing them. This is especially important when it comes to loving the unlovable.
The good news is there is a love that covers all the damage others have done to us. It is a love Jesus teaches to us. It is a love called Agape. Here, Peter has some wonderful tips for us to learn from. He’ll show us how to convert what we know into what we do. He’ll help us understand agape.
“If we just love those who love us, what good is that? Even the sinners do the same” (Luk 6:33).
And, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently, love one another from the heart” (1Pet. 1:22).
If you ask how many different levels of love are there. Well, the Greeks have categorized love in four different areas.
1) Philia: which means a friendship or brotherly love
2) Eros: which is a sensual or sexual kind of love
3) Storge: which is a parental love for your children or children’s love for parents
4) Agape: which is an unconditional love that can only come from heaven
Of these four, three are prone to corruption and will mess up. And, one of these four is God’s love. Above all, it is a love that’s not determined by our or others performance. But in fact, it is a love that is fueled by heaven. Here is the greatest example, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jn 3:16).
Therefore, when I say I agape you, it is not based on your performance. Instead, it is based on His command for me to love with His love for you. It is a fervent love that can withstand being stretched and strained and will not snap. On the other hand, if it’s not God’s love but my own love, it’s a conditional love that cannot withstand being strained and will indeed snap.
Are there people in your life that stretches and strains your life? “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh: for the willingness is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Rom. 7:18). This tells us the Apostle Paul struggled with the same issues as we do. Here are three tips to teach us how to love others that stretch and strain our love.
HOW TO LOVE THE UNLOVABLE
1. THE PROOF OF LOVE IS SEEN WHEN YOUR LOVE IS STRETCHED!
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1Pet. 4:8).
Yes, our love will be seen when it is tested. Some throw in the towel early on and some endure.
Listen, how much do you think God’s love had to stretch for every single one of us here on earth? The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”. And, in addition, “Love never fails” (1Cor. 13:8). That’s how amazing His love is. And that is available to us.
Therefore, whether people have gained or lost your trust, it’s all about what God has asked you to love. It is His command for us to love. So how can this kind of love be possible?
THIS IS ONLY POSSIBLE WHEN YOU:
PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD ALONE.
“Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men…for He Himself knew what was in man…” (Jn. 2:24-25). There are dozens of scriptures such as this that tell us not to put our trust in man, princes, kings or people. You see, man will always mess up. They’ll disappoint and discourage you. Most importantly, there is only person that is worthy of your trust and it is God. We need to understand there is a part of man that does not have the ability to be trusted because we are part of the body or flesh.
For a long time I was doing it wrong as you may have been doing it. You see, I thought I was supposed to agape God and trust man. But God never said my goal was to trust in man. In other words, man is not able to sustain or be worthy of anybody’s trust. Therefore, the correct order for us all is to trust God and agape man.
MAINTAIN AN AGAPE LOVE FOR OTHERS.
“…while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but Keep entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1Pet. 2:23). This tells us Jesus trusted God and not man. Jesus knew that man will fail, but still loved man.
And this kind of love can fulfill the following…“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Luk. 6:27). This kind of love requires a love that is not determined by your response. Why? Because if you hate me, I stop loving you.
You see, man consists of three parts.
2. MAN CONSISTS OF:
Firstly, two parts of man, the spirit and soul has the ability of the divine. And the body or flesh does not and will never have the ability of the divine image. Secondly, two parts of man – the spirit and soul can be redeemed. Whereas, the body or flesh will never be redeemed. In fact, the body or flesh will decompose one day. It is only thereafter, where you’ll get a glorified body. But until then, our bodies are susceptible to be tempted, to insecurity, fear, to anger, to pride, selfishness and to bitterness. And when these enter the body, it affects the spirit and soul of man. Therefore, 2/3 has the ability of the divine. And…
1/3 OF MAN DOES NOT HAVE THE AB ILITY FOR THE DIVINE.
Although we are able to discipline the body, have self-control over it and able to put the flesh to death it will never be redeemable. Therefore, when someone disappoints you, the flesh says, I can’t love you like I use to. Listen, one thing we all share is a certain degree of immaturity. This includes a degree of pride, insecurity, selfishness or bitterness. And this has nothing to do with our race or culture, but the body of man.
Each and everyone one of us have this flesh towards one another. Not just towards the criminals in prison or those who’ve disappointed us. That is why if someone breaks our trust once, twice and even three times, our love will not be able to love them.
On the other hand, an agape love will. Listen, our love was not meant to love with ten, twenty or fifty percent for people. Once we do this, it leaves room in our hearts for bitterness, discouragement, fear and shame. Amazingly, God designed our hearts to thrive with a hundred percent for people. When we are able to agape love people, life is grand! “A perfect love casts out all fear” (1Jn 4:18).
For those who are married, the secret of a lasting married is falling in love over and over again. And, always with the same person! In other words renewing that love which is agape for one another. So renew the agape love for one another often. Because it is fueled by heaven.
God also tells us to be careful who you trust. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Ps. 118:8). And, “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps. 146:3). If you put your trust in man, your love will not be whole. So when you trust people, you’ll need to know what is in people. And when we do, we can do the third and final tip.
3. WE CAN GIVE PEOPLE ROOM TO FAIL AND STILL “AGAPE” THEM.
Here it is folks, my wife will fail me. And, I too will fail my wife. So does this mean we will stop loving each other? No. Again, we agape man and we trust God. So even if someone messes your life, you will be able to love them through agape. This happened to Jesus.
Remember when Jesus was standing before Pontius Pilate in Jn 19? Pontius asked Him, are you the King of the Jews? But Jesus didn’t answer. After repeating the question to Jesus Pilate then exclaims don’t you know that I have the authority to kill you! And Jesus responded with, “You would have no authority unless it was already given to you from my Father” (Jn 19:11). I other words, Jesus did not trust in man, but trusted in God. Therefore, He could agape Pilate because he trusted in God.
And this was the same kind of love that endured those who were hurling rocks at Jesus. It is this agape love that Jesus had when He prayed, “Father forgive for they know what they do” (Luk. 23:34). You see, it didn’t matter what man was doing. It was, God’s love for us. A love who’s source was from heaven!
Yes, we all still struggle to a certain degree with the flesh or body. More so, this should be one reason to give people room to fail. By doing so, it is a sign of maturity. God’s love is more than able to stretch and strain. So keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. And not on what man has done. If you do, you’ll be living your life looking in the rear view mirror.
So press because God created you to move forward. For example, what side of your head did he place our eyes on? By this He’s probably saying we need to look forward. And, why did He place our ears facing forward and not backwards? He’s saying listen to my promises for your future and stop listening to people talking behind your back.
Now take a look at your arms. Which way do they work better? Reaching forward or reaching backwards? And, which way did He put our feet and ankles? If you don’t remember, take a look at the person next to you! Again, God wants you to keep moving and walking forward. There’s only one part of your anatomy He stuck on the other side. Think about it. It’s probably God saying to you to you that there are certain things you need to leave behind.
Therefore, “…Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1Pet. 1:22).
Remember, the proof of love is seen when your love is stretched. And, this is only possible when you put your trust in God alone and when you maintain an agape love for others. In addition, remember that 1/3 of man does not have the ability for the divine. By this, we can give people room to fail and still agape them.
Our Christian faith begins when church services end. Are there people in your current circle of relationships that are grasping for one breath of Christ’s life? You may be it, so allow God to stretch your love for others. Most importantly remember, love never fails!