“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”—John 13:34 (ESV)
Love is hard sometimes. We have people in our lives who we don’t like, let alone love. Yet, God tells us many times through Scripture to persevere in our love for other people, just as His love perseveres for us.
How do we begin to love people we don’t like?
It is important to understand that God’s love for us perseveres through us so that we can love others. He doesn’t set us up for failure; if He commands us through Scripture to do something, He will always give us the means to do it.
Here are three ways He helps us love others:
He Overcomes Our Feelings
Emotions are not a bad thing, altogether. John 4:24 tells us, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The phrase “worship in spirit” refers to a posture of affection for the Lord. God designed us as emotional beings so that we could affectionately respond to Him in worship.
However, when we use our emotions as an excuse not to love those we deem unlovable, we are misusing a tool that God has given us to more fully worship Him.
Jeremiah 17:9 warns us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Our feelings will often dictate our choices. When we recognize that Scripture—not feelings—is the compass that guides our choices, we can take one more step toward freedom to love the unlovable.
He Reminds Us
Even when we don’t feel like loving someone else, we need to remember why we should love them: “We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).”
Our love for another person is not motivated by him or her, but by the ultimate demonstration of Jesus’ love for us—the cross. Our love for others is not in spite of them, but rather, because of Him.
He Empowers Us
Scripture says the Holy Spirit empowers us to love: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).”
If you are alive in Christ, sealed by His blood and walking in fellowship with Him, you have all the power you need to love others.
The Holy Spirit is our source. As imperfect people, we will never have the power within ourselves to love. But God always achieves the unachievable through us.
Ask Him. He will enable you to love.