How is it possible to love the unlovable? There are some people in our lives that are so difficult or even almost impossible to love. They have hurt us with their words, actions and in so many other ways. Some of these people are usually our family members: spouses, siblings or even parents or children. How do we love them?
I want us to first look at the words of Apostle John in 1 John 5:21. He says "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols" NIV. Anything that takes the place of God in our hearts is an idol. So if you harbor anger, anxiety towards someone or hurt in your heart, it becomes an idol because it is taking the place of God.
So the first thing you want to do about the unlovable is to rid yourself of all the unpleasant thoughts that come to mind when you think about these people. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do it. Philippians 4:8 tells us that whatever is true, noble, right, pure, LOVELY, praise worthy, admirable: think on these things. It has to be a conscious and active effort to replace these anxious thoughts with godly thoughts. The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples as He commissioned them to go out in Matthew 10:14 that if they went to a home or city and they were not welcomed, they should shake the dust off their feet when leaving that home or town. This could mean that we leave behind the hurts and pains associated with that relationship. If these are not left behind, then we are still allowing them to take the place of God in our hearts.
What if they continue to hurt you? You may ask. We may need to love them from a far. You can love someone without subjecting yourself to constant interaction with them. I have a family member that caused me so much anxiety that it was taking the place of God in my heart that I had to limit my interaction with them. This limited the anxiety, bad feelings and bitterness that I got from my interactions with them so I could stay focussed on God.
The next thing that we want to do for them is to pray for them. This is the #1 most loving thing we can do for someone. We love the unlovable through our prayer. We are not able to change anyone, only God can change people. Trust me, I have tried to change some people, it didn't work. But we can change ourselves and pray for these people. PRAYER works.
The other thing we can do is to serve them. Jesus did this in John 13. He knew that some of the people present at that table with Him that night were going to betray Him one way or the other, but He still washed their feet...an act of service. Even Judas who planned His arrest got his feet washed by Jesus. Now that is love in action. If we are constantly thinking of a way to help someone, it is difficult to have bad thoughts about them. Genuine and honest prayer is a way to help.
May the Lord help us to love the unlovables in our lives. Amen.