How to Love Someone You Don’t Like

mutual dislike-tagged

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 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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The Two Poles of the 2nd Commandment

It was Jesus Himself who identified loving God and loving neighbor as the first and second commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). It’s worth noting that the second commandment, like a magnet, has both a positive and a negative pole.

The negative pole:

“For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

The positive pole:

Referring to the second commandment, a lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered his question by telling the story of the Samaritan who met the needs of the wounded traveler—providing first aid, transportation, and lodging.

He then asked the lawyer which of the key players in the story had “proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands.” The lawyer admitted, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus replied, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:25-37).

Both/And

So if we love our neighbor as ourselves there are certain things we will not do to our neighbor—to harm him (Galatians 5:14-15; James 2:8-9).  And there are things we will do for our neighbor—to help him (Galatians 5:13-14).

Let’s see how good a neighbor we can be this week!

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

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The Other Love Chapter

Beyond the familiar

Bible students call 1 Corinthians 13 the great Love Chapter of the Bible. It is well named.

Less familiar, however, is another chapter on love. Although not all of 1 John 4 is devoted to the subject, about two-thirds of it is.

While there are nine occurrences of the noun “love” (agapē) in 1 Corinthians 13, the word is used 12 times in 1 John 4. The verb for love (agapaō) is not found in 1 Corinthians 13, but it occurs 14 times in 1 John 4. If you add the noun and verb forms of love in 1 John 4, it comes to a grand total of 26!

What love from above should lead to

Statistics aside, what does 1 John 4 teach about love?

  • It all starts with God: “. . . love is from God . . . . God is love” (vv. 7, 8).
  • God loved first: “. . . not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (v. 10). “We love, because He first loved us” (v. 19).
  • God proved His love: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (v. 9).
  • We are to reflect His love: “. . . if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11).
  • Hatred toward others prevents fellowship with God: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20).

Love in two dimensions

First Corinthians 13 will always remain one of the very greatest of all passages. And yet a study of 1 John 4 along with it gives us a fuller picture. While Paul focuses on the horizontal dimension of love as expressed toward one another, John emphasizes the dynamics of how the horizontal affects the vertical–loving God–and vice versa.

The two dimensions cannot be separated.

love hate-tagged

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

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A Better Way to Live

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My friend and I have been cleaning up an area where someone dumped a mattress, gas grill, carpet, ceiling fan, recliner, old boards, trash, etc.

What does the Bible say?

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you . . .” (Matthew 7:12). “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

People who live by these principles, called the Golden Rule and the Second Commandment, not only refrain from littering and dumping, but also from lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, and a host of other selfish, anti-social behaviors.

Positively, these principles promote compassion, kindness, sharing, honesty, courtesy, respect, and countless other qualities that contribute to a better world.

What does the Bible do?

The Bible, when applied, not only points us to heaven, but also transforms society—one person at a time.

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

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Like a Child

The kind of love children need

A couple of 7-year-old girls were talking about parents’ rules. One said to the other, “If they didn’t care about you, they’d let you do anything.”

Smart girl! She saw rules as evidence of love, and freedom to “do anything” as a disadvantage.

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The kind of love we grownups need

Like children, we grownups have Someone who provides directions for living. When we’ve done as we pleased, we’re not always too pleased with what we’ve done.

We too need guidance and discipline (Hebrews 12:5-6).

The child who identifies parental authority with love is far more likely to be well-adjusted.

Christians who see God in the same way can enjoy their relationship with the Father (1 John 3:1; 5:3).

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