Loving the Unlovable

For many of us, the phrase, "Love the unlovable" is not new. It's noble, it's Christ-like and it is extremely difficult for most of us to faithfully and diligently do.

"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers [and sisters], what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
~ Matthew 5:46-48

Like most people, I suffer from the great battle that wars within me to do what my Lord and Savior Jesus commands me to do—love the unlovable. I find myself struggling to extend love or kindness to someone who basically smacks me in the face with every opportunity they get.

These are not the kind of people I naturally inclined to love, share God's kindness with or really, desire to be around...at all. These are usually the type of people I try to keep at least a 1-mile radiance between them and me, so they can't hurt me and well, so I can't inadvertently hurt them. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I'm talking about the people whom I most desire to share God's love and kindness with, those whom (because of Christ's Spirit in me) I want so much to please, love and be in intimate fellowship with; I'm talking about those who are in the Body of Christ. You know, our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus, who never lovingly and truthfully discuss any ill feelings their having about you, but you can feel it; you sense the distance. And while they use no words to let you know what upsets them so that you can work things out, you can't miss the loud, ear bursting sounds of the walls they are building; high and wide, between you and them. This is one of the things that grieve me the most, because I so love my Savior and all those who are members of His beautiful and holy Body.

It sickens me to admit, but I am a notorious people pleaser. Really I am. Because I'm so strong-willed, most people would find this hard to believe, but this fact is true—my greatest idol is my desire to have those within the Body of Christ love me, accept me and be well pleased with me. But you know, I haven't read anywhere in the Bible that desiring to please anyone, including those in the Body, over pleasing God is a good thing.

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
~ Galatians 1:10

Even in the above Scripture, I don't see an "if" there. You know, all those "if's" most of us wish God included in His word (e.g., if your husband loves you like Christ loves the church, then submit to him; if your parents don't exasperate you and are worthy, then obey, honor and respect them; if the people you love greater than God are members of your blood or spiritual family, then it's okay to put their desires before Gods, etc.).

Where does this people pleasing sin nature come from? According to God's word, the main root of all sin is pride, and its branches are these (1 John 2:16):
  • desires of the flesh (physical comfort and fulfillment),
  • desires of the eyes (emotional and mental comfort and fulfillment),
  • and pride in possessions (both tangible [monetary wealth, number of children, etc.] and intangible possessions [reputation; position at work, school, community or church, etc.])
So what is the branch I am hanging on that tempts me to sin against my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? The branch I am tempted to swing on, to get where I want to be...is all three.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as your share in Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."
~ 1 Peter 4:12-14
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"As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my Help and my Deliverer; do not delay, O my God!"
~ Psalm 40:17

Growing up with much strife has instilled in me a deep desire for God's peace and love to dwell richly within me, and also within the Body of my good and awesome Savior. But sometimes, my good, God-given desire for God's peace and love to reign amongst my spiritual Family grieves my Lord when I put their desires, their pleasure, their acceptance and thoughts about me, above my heavenly Father's.

How will I love the unlovable? Specifically those in the Body of Christ who are imperfect like me and have hang-ups from their past like me, that cause them to be difficult and painful to be around at times?

  • I will refuse to think too much on why they are building those walls.
  • I will refuse to consider any evil of them or allow my imagination to get the best of me.
  • I will refuse to see them any differently than God sees me; a sinner saved by grace alone, by God alone
  • I will willingly step away (if God so leads me), with love and understanding if my presence in their life is harmful to them, no matter how much I desire peace, unity and intimacy within the Body of Christ.
  • I will protect them if others malign their character in any way.
  • And I will wait with fervent prayers on their behalf and open, loving arms should God desire to bless us with joyful fellowship one day; if not, I will be satisfied to love them through my prayers and any other means God provides me.
  • I will take my tears and heartache to my LORD alone, and suffer joyfully for Christ's name, for the sake of His Body, "until we attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ..." (Ephesians 4:13).

So, today, I am resigned. I am resigned to stop swinging on those unstable branches of pride and cling more tightly to the Vine of my life and bear much fruit as His branch.

This is the song and prayer of my heart today and for the rest of my life. I truly pray that it will be yours as well.

Meredith Andrews
Only to Be Yours from her album, As Long As It Takes.
Please listen and be exhorted to remain faithful to the Good Shepherd of our souls.