Loving Unlovable People
by Hillary McMullen
在你的生活中谁是最难相处的人？主耶稣教导我们不仅要在表面上善待和尊重他们，而要从上帝的眼睛来看他们 - 真心充满对他们的理解和同情。祂的榜样和祂改变我们的力量，使我们能够像祂那样所爱所有的人。
Life is full of people who rub us the wrong way. Whether it's within our family, workplace, church, or community, we've all encountered at least one person who drives us absolutely crazy. Maybe they say sly insults, tell bad jokes, or invade our personal space. Whatever their annoying or hurtful habits are, our spirits are dampened and flustered by their presence in our lives.
As Christians, how do we cope with difficult people? Christ calls us to love selflessly and ceaselessly. So are we just supposed to force a smile and fake a laugh, while inside we're cringing or crying or wanting to flee? How can we possibly be genuine with all these negative emotions broiling just beneath the surface?
The only true source of compassion, strength, and love is God. If we embrace and rely completely on God's love and forgiveness for us, we can then draw from his infinite provision and begin to love others more fervently and sincerely. We can't do it on our own. Our broken, sinful hearts aren't capable of scraping together nearly enough love to cover the foibles and flaws of our fellow humans. We occasionally have trouble loving even those who are dearest to us. So often, our feeble, fleeting attempts at love fall flat and our patience runs dry.
I've found a few ways to help us build greater compassion, empathy, and love for our neighbors—even the ones who have caused us pain, anger, or frustration. It is critical, though, to understand that these tools are best used in the hands of those who have deeply acknowledged their own sin and their need for Christ's grace and direction in their lives.
Consult God's Word. Scripture is a treasure trove of practical advice about how to interact with people. Sometimes we may feel as though the Bible is distant and unrelated to today's culture, but upon closer inspection, we can see that human nature hasn't really changed. The wisdom that the Word provides is still relevant to our lives.
You don't know their whole story. Knowing the hardships in someone's life can give you an entirely new perspective and understanding of their personality. Dealing out judgment comes so easily to us, especially when we are leveling it at someone who makes our lives miserable. But if we remember that they, too, have felt the sting of injustice, the burden of anxiety, and the ache of emptiness, perhaps we won't be so quick to feel anger and annoyance.
It's always possible to establish common ground. It's amazing how finding something in common with a person you take issue with can begin to bridge the chasm between you. It could be something as simple as a similar childhood experience, a shared hobby, or a book you both enjoyed. These tiny tendrils of connection may seem meaningless, but they could gradually improve your interactions.
Silence is golden, so think before you speak. Sometimes our words stumble out of our mouths before we have a chance to censor them. It can be easy to lash out in anger or make condescending comments. But words, once they're said, are irreversible and hold incredible weight. Pray for self-control and the wisdom to speak only what is encouraging, considerate, and kind.
Don't take yourself too seriously. An important life skill is learning how to laugh at yourself. We can become so caught up in proving a point or keeping our pride intact that we start to forget that we are as human as everyone else. A humble attitude admits to faults and views others as equals instead of inferiors.
Don't go looking for trouble. There can be something oddly satisfying about keeping an account of our enemies' sins. Maybe we sniff out offenses like a bloodhound, looking for more fuel to feed our dislike. By focusing on their dirt, we begin to feel better about our own. But this mentality leaves us bitter and allows no room for grace. Shed the attitude of hypersensitivity and instead adopt one of patience and forgiveness.
Love because you are loved. Forgive because you have been forgiven. Ephesians 4:32 puts it best: "Be kind to each another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." When you feel the need to hold a grudge or keep your love from someone, remember the abundance of grace that is available to you through Jesus, despite your great sin. He is the reason we can each love deeply, joyfully, and freely.
Who are the people in your life who are the most difficult to interact with? Christ has taught us to not only outwardly treat them with kindness and respect, but to also view them through His eyes—with understanding and compassion. His example and transforming power in our lives will equip us to go out and love as He loved.
What is something new or interesting you learned from this article?
Which of the ways that the author described is something you already do?
Which of the ways that the author described is a challenge for you (or will be difficult for you to do?) Why?
Do you know of other ways to love the "unlovable" not mentioned by this author?
Is anyone in your life hard to love? What is it about that person that you struggle with?
What’s one way you can show that person love this week?