On Valentine’s Day, we treat our loved ones. Grown men stand in line to buy fuzzy teddy bears, overpriced chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, and mushy greeting cards declaring their undying love. Women shop as well, searching for a new set of tools, the perfect cologne and, of course, a mushy greeting card. Parents even buy treats and toys for their children, to remind them that they’re cherished.
However you celebrate Valentine’s Day, you’ll be thinking of those you love. You certainly won’t be thinking of those you don’t love.
You know who they are. The woman who said hateful things about you behind your back. The guy who deceived you and broke your heart. We all know people like this. The ones who make life harder. The ones who hurt others to get ahead. The ones we can’t stand to be around. The ones we cannot, under any situation, love.
And yet that’s what God has called us to do: to love the unlovable.
An Impossible Command
Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for those persecute us. (See Matthew 5:43-47.) I thought about this for years, wondering how I could possibly live this out in my own life. How can we muster the courage, strength, or whatever goodness is needed to love those who hate us?
I finally have the answer: We don’t. We can’t. We simply don’t have what it takes.
But God does.
A Godly Love
Before we knew God, we had to manage on our own. Our emotions—from love to hate—were based on passion, desire, and fear.
Then, we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit took up residence in our hearts. The Bible says that God is Love. This doesn’t just mean that He Loves us, but that His Love abides within us. (See 1 John 4:8 and 15.) If we will tap into the Holy Spirit in us, we can dispense God’s Love (with a capital L).
Remember, Jesus sacrificed Himself so all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). He saved each of us while we were still sinners. God’s Love is bigger than any sin we can commit, and there is no one God doesn’t want to save.
There will always be people who wound us, aggravate us, or simply annoy us. But we aren’t limited to our own anemic emotions any more. Now, we can draw from God’s perfect Love that dwells within us.
The next time you happen upon your enemies, try these godly tactics:
• Fake it ‘til you make it. Act like you sincerely care for their wellbeing. This isn’t about lying but about positioning yourself to draw from God’s wellspring of Love.
• Don’t be ugly. Even when they’re not in the room, don’t say anything hateful about them. That would only negate the good work you’re trying to accomplish and open the door to hypocrisy.
• Pray for them. You can’t hate someone you’re praying for, so pray and pray some more.
Whatever you do, ask for God’s guidance and wisdom. Treat each interaction with your enemies as opportunities to be His hands and feet in the world. By this, God’s love will be perfected in you. (See 1 John 4:12.)
If you practice this enough, you will eventually prove something quite profound: thanks to God’s grace, no one is unlovable.
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