How to Love Someone You Don’t Like

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One of life’s greatest challenges

Our adult class was studying 1 John 4, which has much to say about love, including, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love . . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:8, 11).

A member of the class asked, “What do you say when someone tells you, ‘I can’t stand that person’?”

In response, other class members suggested practical steps we can take in dealing with someone we don’t enjoy being around. These pointers, along with additional comments, can provide us with guidelines for our relationships with one another.

First, liking and loving are two different things.

To love others in the biblical sense means we desire what is best for them and then act accordingly (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Second, pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).

By asking God to bless them and also to help us overcome our aversion, we will likely find ourselves feeling more positive toward them.

Third, get better acquainted.

Are there people you initially disliked, but after getting to know them you gained a different perspective? We may discover some good qualities we were unaware of, or we may learn why they are the way they are.

Fourth, do something good for them (Romans 12:20-21). This can actually soften attitudes on both sides.

Replacing ill will with goodwill

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). This implies that in spite of our best efforts, the other person may never move in our direction. But at least we’ve done what we could.

And while we cannot force anyone to be feel kindly toward us, at least we have control over our own attitudes.

If we make a sincere effort to apply these principles, we may be pleasantly surprised by what God enables us to do.

We’ll never know until we try.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Good News?

His character

The Bible calls him “a righteous and holy man” (Mark 6:20). Jesus said of him, “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining . . .” (John 5:35).

The task of John the Baptist was preparing Israel for the coming Messiah. John’s message consisted of two main themes: 1) repentance, and 2) the Coming One.

Concerning repentance, he preached the necessity of showing proof of a true change of heart by not mistreating others and by sharing with those in need (Luke 3:7-14).

He was bold enough to rebuke King Herod for his sins—and consequently was imprisoned and beheaded (Matthew 14:3-12).

Concerning Christ, John said of Him, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! . . . . this is the Son of God” (John 1:29, 34).

His message

William Barclay says of John’s preaching, “. . . whatever the message of John was it was not a gospel. It was not good news . . .” (The Gospel of Luke, Westminster Press, p. 28).

I beg to differ. The New Testament specifically says John preached the gospel (Luke 3:18). The word gospel means good news.

It’s true, John preached fire and damnation (Luke 3:7, 9). He had to announce the bad news before the good news could be fully appreciated. The doctor must tell us we have cancer before we would consent to surgery or other treatment.

The good news John preached was that in spite of God’s wrath against sin, He has sent us a Savior who will rescue us from a fate far worse than death.

As William Hendriksen has written, “The Baptist’s warning, dire and dreadful though it may seem, is filled with mercy, for its purpose is that men may be converted” (New Testament Commentary: Luke, Baker Book House, p. 212).

That was the message God sent John to preach, and he faithfully preached it.

And it really was good news.
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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Is There a Place for Preaching?

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Why some won’t listen

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t preach to me!” or “I don’t mean to sound like I’m preaching, but . . . .”?

Preaching is not always appreciated. Sometimes this is due to those who fail to practice what they preach. And at times preaching may come across as self-righteous, egotistic.

But perhaps the major reason preaching is not always welcome is that there is within many of us the attitude, “Nobody’s gonna tell ME what to do!”

This rebellious inner self, the Bible says, must be put aside. In its place there must be childlike humility. God calls us to yield control of our lives to Him and make Christ our Lord in every area of our life.

If our beliefs are false or we’re not living right, and the preacher tells us we’re wrong, isn’t he really doing us a tremendous favor, even if it hurts at the time? “Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Paul asks (Galatians 4:16).

Paul himself, at one time the violent persecutor of the church, had to learn the shocking truth that he had been working against God when he sincerely thought he was doing God’s will. He had to learn how wrong he was before he could get right. And so must we.

Why it makes sense to listen

If the preacher is true to the message God has revealed in His word, then resisting the message is resisting God Himself (Luke 10:16). The preacher is simply the messenger.

Balanced preaching contains both positive and negative and is geared to the needs of the hearers. It has often been said that preaching should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Sometimes we need to be afflicted.

Paul urged Timothy to “preach the word . . . reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Paul then warns that people will reject unpalatable truth and turn instead to those who will tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Doesn’t this happen in our day—a lot?

So what do we want? Pleasant words that make us feel good and never bad, or the truth that we so desperately need?

To receive the marvelous blessings of salvation we must be willing to repent by changing our minds and renouncing our sins, then humbly submitting to God’s gracious will (Acts 2:36-38; 22:16).

If it’s really the truth, can we afford to accept anything else?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“What is Truth?”

How we view truth

One of the characteristics of our culture is the belief that truth is relative—what’s true for you may not be true for me. If that’s the case, then neither you nor I have the right to say what anyone else should believe or do.

Certainly there are some areas of life which are subjective. For example, two people eat the very same food. One thinks it tastes great, while the other can’t stand it. So who’s right? Isn’t this simply a matter of personal preference? There is no objective standard in such cases.

How we view morality

But does it work the same way in morality? Does each of us determine what’s right or wrong, as we see it? Or is there a universal moral standard?

For instance, is it wrong to have sexual relations outside of marriage? Many today do not think so, while others do. So which is right? Who decides?

Even if we do not accept the Bible as God’s inspired truth applicable to all people in every era, we are still forced to conclude that the Bible limits sex relations to the marital union of a man and a woman. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4; see Genesis 1:27; 2:18-24).

How we view the Bible

Either the Bible is God’s word or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then it’s merely a human document we can do with as we wish. But if it is God’s word, are we wise to disregard it?

Paul wrote, “. . . we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

How we view Jesus

Likewise with Christ. Either He is who He claimed to be, the Son of God, or He isn’t. He can’t be both.

If He isn’t, then we don’t need to follow Him. If He is, then how can we ignore Him?

One of Jesus’ claims is this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

What a bold statement! Now either it’s the truth or it’s a lie. Which? If true, then how can we consider all world religions as alternate paths to God?

One doesn’t have to be a narrow-minded bigot to affirm that the Bible claims there is only one way to God, and that way is through Jesus.

If that’s the truth, then who has the right to say otherwise?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Why Was Jesus Rejected?

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For centuries they had been looking for the Messiah, but when He finally came, they killed Him! Why?

Jesus told the truth.

He said, “the world . . . hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil” (John 7:7).

And when Jesus told those of His hometown synagogue about God’s concern for Gentiles, they tried to push Him off a nearby cliff (Luke 4:25-29).

Jesus claimed divinity.

“. . . the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He . . . was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; see Matthew 26:62-68; John 7:28-30; 8:51-59; 10:30-39).

Jesus violated their Sabbath traditions.

He always observed the Sabbath as prescribed in the Law of Moses, while ignoring the Sabbath traditions of the Pharisees (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17; John 5:8-18; 9:13-16).

They were envious of Him.

When Jesus came on the scene, the Jewish leaders no longer had the power and influence over the people they once had. They watched in frustration as the crowds flocked to Jesus instead (Matthew 27:18; John 12:19).

And we?

And there were other reasons they rejected Him. But that was back then. Do people still reject Him? Though maybe not for the same reasons and not in the same ways, but yes, many reject Jesus today.

Many acknowledge Him as a great teacher or mighty prophet, but deny His claims to be the Christ, the Son of God.

One common way we can reject Jesus is to put our agenda ahead of His, keeping busy with the routine of our own day-to-day affairs—in effect shutting Him out. It’s a subtle form of rejection, but it is rejection nonetheless.

“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born . . . of God” (John 1:11-13; see John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5).

Why reject the One, the only One, who offers us the greatest privilege of becoming God’s own children?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Amazingly Saved and Radically Changed by the Cross

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Why did Jesus die on the cross? To save our souls? Indeed He did, but that’s not all.

For Him

First, His death means the end of self-centered living and the beginning of Christ-centered living: “. . . He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Second, because we’ve been purchased by His blood, our bodies, which now belong to Him, must be used for God’s glory, not for immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Like Him

Third, His death sets us an example of humility and obedience. “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus . . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Fourth, His refusal to retaliate (1 Peter 2:21-23) and His endurance in the face of opposition (Hebrews 12:1-3) should lead us to do the same.

For others

Fifth, His death  prompts us to love others as we have been loved. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us . . .” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Sixth, His death calls us to love sacrificially: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Seventh, now that we belong to Him, we are to put evil deeds behind us and now engage in good deeds (Titus 2:14).

Eighth, His death means we forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).

But that’s not all—and yet these eight passages should be sufficient to show that God means for the death of His Son to open up for us wonderful new vistas of thinking and living.

And what a life it is!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Through the Eyes of Christ

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Before my time

I remember hearing my dad talk about living through the Great Depression. He and my mother had been married only a couple of years when the stock market crashed in 1929.

Like so many others, they didn’t have much, but they were happy. They had each other, and far more importantly, they had their faith. They learned how to deal with an extremely tight financial situation that dragged on for years.

Most of us were born after the Depression and have enjoyed relative plenty all our lives. Have we come to take prosperity for granted? Do we expect it as our right?

Imagine it!

Suppose a family from the 1930s were suddenly transported to our modern supermarkets and car dealerships. Imagine the look on their faces as they try to comprehend the astonishing abundance as well as the incredible variety of products available. And so much of what we routinely use today didn’t even exist back then.

Theoretically at least, we know we could lose it all someday. And what if we did? Could we deal with it, or would we be emotionally devastated?

The contented life

Christians are in the best position to accept the loss of possessions. Christ Himself traveled light when He walked our earth. He taught the importance of trusting in God for one’s daily bread. He also taught it’s better to give than to receive.

He taught His disciples to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). He warned against the spiritually fatal tendency toward greed (Luke 12:13-21).

And so if we learn to live by His teachings and look at life through His eyes, we’ll be able to handle financial reverses with greater grace than if we were earthbound materialists (Philippians 4:10-20; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 10:34).

The Christian outlook is, by far, the healthiest way to live!

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