Love those you don’t like
How do you treat the annoying people in your life?
In my opinion, one of the hardest things God calls me to do is love the unlikeable.
When the Bible tells us to love our neighbor there are no exceptions given.
The Bible doesn’t say, “love everyone… except the teacher that always assigns too much homework”.
The Bible doesn’t say, “love everyone… except your little brother that doesn’t seem to understand how to go a day without pestering you”.
The Bible doesn’t say, “love everyone… except that clingy friend”.
Here are some things to remember if you have found yourself at your wits end with the unlikeable people in your life.
1. God loved us when we were unlikeable
In the book of Romans, Paul writes: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God loved us in the midst of our sin.
When we confront our sin, we are struck by how broken we are. God showed us grace when we had our backs to him. He loved us not because we were (or are) particularly likeable. He loved us because we are his precious children.
Our love for others shouldn’t be dependent on whether or not the other is likeable. We should love the unlikeable, because God loves them.
2. Loving the unlikeable helps us grow in patience and kindness
It’s not human instinct to treat those that we dislike well. If it were, the Bible wouldn’t need to say, in Luke 6:29, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.”
The challenge that Luke gives us is to not only show love to those we dislike, but also to those who dislike us! Persevering through difficult relationships like this is what we are called to do. What’s more, it helps develop our character and shape us into the people God created us to be. We become people that are kind, forgiving, loving and patient.
3. All Christians have a unique place in the kingdom of heaven
In 1 Corinthians 12:18, Paul writes, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?”
If you’re a Christian, you’re part of the body of Christ. What this means is that when you insult a fellow Christian (no matter how unlikeable they are), you are insulting the body of Christ. They have a place in God’s kingdom.
God created different types of people and we need to appreciate all of them. He didn’t make us to all be loud, outgoing extroverts … and neither did he make everyone quiet and reserved. If someone with a completely different personality type is bothering you, don’t let that affect the way you treat them. Remember, they are part of the body of Christ.
It’s easy to look at those who are different and consider them less important. But, if they’re a Christian, love them as Christ has loved you and remember, they are part of the body of Christ.
4. Gossip divides, love unifies
Doesn’t it feel great to rant at someone and get their confirmation that yes, that girl was unjustified or rude? You can feel connected to the person you’re speaking to when you gossip. However, you’ve just driven a big wedge between the two of you and the person you’re gossiping about.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:9: “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
The opposite response of gossip is love. As Christians, we have an opportunity to show God’s love to others by responding with patience and kindness.
This is not to say that if we’re genuinely hurt, we should just try and forget about it. If you’re feeling wronged by the way someone has acted, speak to God about it (and if it’s serious, speak to a mature Christian or a close friend and get help).
The way of love
Remember, Christ doesn’t love you because you are particularly likeable. He loves you because you are a precious child of his. In the same way, go and love those who don’t seem so likeable to you, and discover the way that God has made them.