I have a family member who makes it difficult for me to extend grace and love. I don’t do anything intentionally to hurt them or freeze them out of my life. I’m basically…well, just friendly. Not much more. The bottom line is, it’s hard for me to love difficult people.
We love receiving grace, don’t we? When we’ve sinned against God, we love when God extends grace to us. When we are not at our best, or have been an awful friend or family member, we love when they love us anyway. We love…receiving grace.
Have you noticed it’s easy to love people who love you back? But what about those times when it's not so easy to love other people? The times you have been hurt and wronged. What about people who are just plain hard to love? And what about those people you can barely tolerate? Are you supposed to love them, too? And, if so, how?
John, one of Jesus’s closest friends, warns us in 1 John 3:14-15 (NIV), “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Yikes, hating someone makes us murderers in our hearts? Oh wow…in other words, God wants us to love even those who are hard to love. Everyone?
We have limited abilities to love others on our own. We typically love people circumstantially. It’s according to how we feel about the other person or the way he or she treats us. The good news is, with God’s help, we are able to love other people the way Jesus wants us to – all the time. Everyone.
Jesus modeled real love to us on the cross. He loved us by giving up His life for us before we ever knew Him. By Christ’s example, we can learn to love those who don’t deserve it. First John 3:24 (NIV) says, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” If we open our hearts to love people who are hard to love, we experience a deeper relationship with God.
Pastor Andy Stanley, in his book entitled “The Grace of God,” asks us, “Who are people you have a hard time extending grace? Whose calamity do you secretly celebrate? Who do you secretly wish would get what you think they have coming to them? Let’s start with some large groups. Rich people? Poor people? White people? Black people? Skinny people? Muslims?”
Are there family members or people you work with you need extra help loving? Do you know it’s ok to be honest and ask God for help loving those people? God gives us an amazing capacity to love others, and with His strength, we can overcome all barriers and prejudices.
- 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?