There are so many verses in the Bible that refer to love, and explain to us what it means to love as Jesus does. We read them so often that we eventually think we understand what it means to love like Him. But do we really?
It’s easy to love the lovable people in our lives, and to honour them and treat them with respect. It’s also easy to see a beggar on the street and feel led to help him or her. At that moment, we feel godly love and compassion for that person. We help them, and then move on with our lives. We never get to know the person, or walk a road with them, unless the Lord leads us to build a relationship with him or her.
The difficulty arises when we try to love the people in our lives who are difficult and challenging; people who have habits and characteristics that we don’t like or agree with, people who are negative and not uplifting to spend time with. Maybe it’s someone battling with depression, or someone prideful and arrogant, critical people, or others who may use foul language. It could also be someone battling with inferiority and always being unsure of everything. The examples are endless.
What do we do with these people in our lives? Do we reject them and try to avoid them? Do we gossip, spread negative rumours and judge them? If we look at today’s verse again, we see we are to really love others, but to hate what’s wrong. We need to separate these two things: the person and the sin.
It helps a lot is to ask yourself why the person you’re struggling to love is acting the way he or she is. There’s always a reason for a person’s behaviour. The person most probably isn’t aware of their behaviour, but the Lord knows exactly what’s going on.
The Lord knows each person’s hurt and pain. He also knows the defence mechanisms and the coping mechanisms they use to conceal their pain and need. The Lord places certain people in our lives for a reason, and a season. Let’s draw near to the Lord and ask Him for discernment and compassion for each of these people. He longs to heal each person in His perfect timing.
Often the biggest impact on a person’s life is to experience godly love and acceptance from someone else. Actions speak much louder than words. Over time, someone out there feels the love that the Bible speaks about – that genuine affection and unconditional love that Jesus has for every person. Often this is when their hearts begin to change and turn towards God. What a privilege it can be to be a part of someone’s journey towards healing and restoration.
‘No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us’ (1 John 4:12).
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for every person You’ve placed in my life – even the people I find challenging. Please give me discernment to understand their behaviour a bit better and to see the person for who he or she is. Help me to see behind the sin, and show me how to love and serve each person as You would. Help me to delight in honouring them. Amen.
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