rebelling against low expectations

How do you love someone you don’t like?


ASHLEY WRITES: How do you love someone if you don’t like that person? I have some people in my life that I don’t like at all, but I know the Bible says to “love your enemies”. How do you do it? I tried so many times to love these people, but it is hard.

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  • Good question. I would say love is a choice; we can choose to love someone regardless of how we feel.

    A good example is in marriage. Even when there will be annoyances the husband/wife will have to choose to love rather than acting on feelings.

    Talk with God about it. You shouldn’t force yourself to like someone…But should examine why you don’t like a certain person.

    Happy New Year!

    • So, are you saying that love can be an action, and not a feeling, and that even if we feel upset with someone, we can still love them at the same time?

      • Yeah. I do believe that. That is also not to say your actions have to be void of any feelings…We just shouldn’t rely solely on them.

        I know the struggle & I don’t think we should make light or excuse pain from others. But also remember we are called to love.

        Hope this helps!

    • I disagree, @guyinchicago:disqus. I think that loving actions may be a choice, and choosing to pursue the hard thing of loving a person you don’t like is a choice, but the actual heart act of loving someone is not a choice. You can’t make yourself genuinely love someone from the heart if you don’t want to, and you can’t want to love this person until you actually do. It’s a sin nature problem. Only God can change our heart, but it IS possible to change who we love genuinely. (see my original post above)

      • Hello Haley, I do agree with you. You can’t force whats not there, which is why prayer and God’s Spirit are super important in loving poeple.

        But isn’t love shown in actions? Can we genuinely want to and show kindness to someone, even if we don’t really like them, because God says we should?

        • I completely agree that love is shown in actions. However, genuine love, love that honors God, does not start with actions. Love begins in the heart and spills over into actions. This is similar to salvation. Salvation is a heart issue, but genuine salvation will be shown through action.

          In answer to your second question, no, I do not believe that we can genuinely want to do anything that is not in line with our fallen nature without the Spirit working in us and changing us. We can serve someone we don’t like without genuinely wanting to. I agree that it is very possible to do this. But because this is human nature problem, we cannot force ourselves to love if we don’t want to love. (btw, there was a great sermon by Brett Harris on this. If you subscribe to his emails, than you get three free downloads of conferences he spoke at. The third download is the sermon I am referring to.)

          I think that this whole thing is really about pleasing God. Otherwise, why bother doing a hard thing? It is thankless. The world tells us to love our friends and hate our enemies. Why should we bother trying to love our enemies if we don’t seek to please God? And God is not pleased with empty actions. If God see our hearts, he knows whether we are thinking hateful thoughts even while serving. He knows the truth. So our empty actions are worthless. If we aren’t seeking to please him, than there would be no reason to have action at all. (This is the Pharisee problem.)

          • Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to like someone to love someone. You can dislike a person and still love them in a Godly way. I am not saying that you have to like a person to serve them either. Just wanted to clarify. This isn’t about having to like a person, this about how to love a person. 🙂

          • But thats what I said, right 🙂 We can love someone and show kindness, in a godly way, without liking them.

            Anywase nice input. I think it is good to learn and talk about the God we love. And we get to do that 🙂

    • @haleyseba:disqus I agree with you. I think that this is the classic Pharisee problem: actions without love. If I speak in tongues of men and of angels but have not love I am nothing (1 Cor 13). Affection for Christ needs to be shaping your affection for those around you.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing the comments, because this is something that I struggle with… Especially to my own sister. It’s hard to love someone that hurts you or your family.

    • I know, I’ve been having this problem a lot lately. It’s hard, ESPECIALLY when it’s someone in your own household.

  • I deal with this daily because of my brother. He has autism. Because of many different factors, I really want to hate him. He hits, bites, and scrapes me on a daily basis. Just two days ago he grabbed my iPod for no reason whatsoever and threw it, breaking it. I end up babysitting him up to 20 hours a week also, which can be nightmarish.

    But, true love really comes from the heart. If I really have sympathy to the fact that he is not doing this on purpose (usually…), it is a lot easier to want to love him. I think the same goes for any situation. Remember that there is a reason for any action, and the best thing you can do is to show Christ’s love. The Bible says to ask and it will be given, and I try to ask for love, even when I just and to punch the person and run away.

    • My sister doesn’t have autism, but she has some very similar stuff, and I can truly say that I know what it’s like. It certainly is hard, and I often feel like nobody understands, nobody gets it, and I’m alone in this. But there are a few times every now and then, that I see her attempting to be good and get people to like her, and I am reminded that I should love her even though she doesn’t deserve it. That she wants to be loved just like anyone else would.

      • Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying! Deep down inside, everyone wants to be loved, and as the “victim”, it really helps me to show him my love. May I ask how old your sister is?

          • Eh, ok!

            My brother is 5, and he is really getting dangerous. Its hard to think that I was a bit like him at that age (I’ve put my determination in other places now that I’m 13 thankfully)

  • Hey there, Ashley 🙂

    First off, this is a really great question that I think a lot of people can relate to. My advice to you would be to not rely on your feelings to guide your love, but rely on God.

    I get it. Some people are just hard to like and unlovely. So we, on our own, might have a hard time loving others. But God can use us even then to show His perfect love through us. I feel like saying “just pray” is such a vague answer, but seriously, try asking God to give you a loving attitude towards these people. Think about what God did for us when we were completely unlovely, and dead in sin. Why should we think that He won’t help us show that same kind of love to others?

    I hope that helps a bit 🙂 God bless!

  • I agree with Haylie. If your focus is on you or the people you want to love, you’ll get nowhere fast. If you set your sights on God and Christ’s love for you, it will naturally flow through you and oftentimes unknown to you. It’s too easy to get caught up in what you should do, but truth is, it’s all about what He does.

  • In many ways, loving is more about actions than thoughts. Certainly, hating someone while acting like you love them isn’t good. But often the first step to loving someone you don’t like is to act lovingly towards them even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes, this can change our thoughts towards the person we don’t like. But more often than not, our thoughts don’t change. Yet God still commands us to love, and in these situations the love must be shown through our actions, even if our thoughts don’t always agree.

  • This is a great question! @karljacobn:disqus has a good point, that acting lovingly even when you don’t feel like it is a good start to changing your heart. But I agree that that isn’t the whole story. If you are truly seeking to honor God by loving your enemies, than love must flow from your heart through your actions. Here is the great thing! The love part is not YOUR responsibility alone. YOU don’t have to depend on your own sinful self to love someone you don’t like. (which seems like an impossible task in the first place.) Remember Galatians 5:22-25 where it talks about the fruit of the Spirit?

    But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we should be in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

    None of these things are of our own sinful nature. These are the things that come through prayer, seeking God, and then receiving his changes in us. We can’t become these things without the Spirit working in us.

    What was the first things on the list of fruit? Love! So, honoring God by loving your enemy from the heart is a matter of asking the Spirit to change your heart. Only God can give you a genuine love for this person. You CAN’T do it alone. Pray for that person, and pray for your actions and thoughts towards that person.

  • Check out the next part of they verse. “Love your enemies and PRAY for those who persecute you…” Mat 5:44

    Prayer is an important part of love. In C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, he sets up a scenario with a newly converted Christian whose mother (who he lives with) is not a Christian. It is implied that it is hard for them to get along. The devil Screwtape, writing to his nephew, says this: “It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for his mother, but we have means of rendering the prayers innocuous. Make sure that they are always very “spiritual”, that he is always concerned with the state of her soul and never with her rheumatism.”

    The point here is that you should be actively praying for their wellbeing. Prayer produces desire, and prayer for the real wellbeing of the enemy is important in creating love for them. Their test coming up. That cough they’re coming down with. I would like to posit that prayer in these small things is the first step.

  • Ashley,
    The only way that I have found to love someone is by reminding myself of my own depravity “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Staying in an attitude of gratitude for my salvation is very helpful. Only God can change your heart to love and that can only come by repentance of our sinfulness.

    It isn’t sinful to not be close to everyone. Jesus had His circle. God designed us all differently with different gifting and talents. We are just called to love others by showing them respect and value as God’s creation. Often, comparing ourselves with others as being better than can create arrogance and it is very self-defeating in your efforts to love.

    May God bless you,
    Ms. Jean

  • Practice crushing angry thoughts about the person and try to see them as a
    loved by God who makes mistakes like you and me. (Think about the
    incredible forgiveness of Christ towards us.) If you are constantly
    thinking bitterly of them, you will go backwards.
    Treat them lovingly. For me this is easier than actually loving them, but if you consciously suit the attitude to the action, it will help.
    Ask your family to keep you accountable not to criticize or gossip about the
    hurtful person.
    Keep in mind Matthew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive others their sins,
    your Father will not forgive your sins.” (I’m sure that verse has more context and meaning than is apparent, but you could look it up.)
    Forgiving is a process that takes time and effort. You may have to forgive
    again and again and again. Corrie Ten Boom did too. Her example is inspiring.
    I visited her house in Amsterdam, the woman giving the tour said
    something very simple. When faced with difficult people, we have a
    choice: we can become “bitter or better.” Don’t waste the opportunity
    God has given you to become better, because it’s a gift.
    I hope this is helpful!

  • The Bible is full of commands about emotions (love your enemy, rejoice in your suffering, delight yourself in the Lord, don’t be anxious) and all of them go against our normal response. Naturally they’re hard to obey, but we can trust God to show us how. In 1 Peter 2, He tells “like new-born infants long for the pure spiritual milk” — which is the Word of God. So we spend time thinking about the truth of the gospel and who God is, trust that it’s true, and it will produce the feelings we need to obey. This is all kind of up there, but I hope it helps!

  • For me, it’s taking the time to figure out what it is that specifically annoys me about that person. Often, it’s more me and my selfish attitude that makes me dislike them than their actual habits or personality. Once I have things pinpointed, I resolve to start loving them and make sure to get my mentality adjusted about the things that push my buttons. And for further encouragement, Jesus loved and prayed for the people who killed him. Yeah, I think we can get along with people who rub us the wrong way :D.

    • Kyle, although the people I struggle with do more than just pushing my buttons, thank you for making me realize that there are many times that I react badly when they’re just being annoying, and that’s something I need to work on.

    • To put it in simple words, sometimes (a lot of times), we need to love people for who they are instead of disliking them for who they aren’t.

  • Thanks for the good advice guys.
    Loving these people is hard—especially if there is one person who annoys and angers me a lot…
    This will be, for me and maybe some of you, like doing “hard things”.

  • People commonly believe that love is an emotion. And it is don’t get me wrong, but they forget another important aspect of love. Love is an action. Love is doing…something kind. It’s returning good for evil. It’s considering their interest over your own. So, you may not having gushy feelings for the people you don’t like Ashley, but you can show love to them through your actions.

  • What helps me to love people most is the Greek words for love. In fact, there are four: Agápe, Éros, Phili, Storge.
    Agape love is defined as self-sacrificial love. And is the Greek word used when God commands us to love one another, and also is the word used to describe God as love.
    Eros love is defined as intimate love. As with a spouse.
    Phileo love is defined as love for a friend. Which is what we most commonly think of when we read the Passage that states to love one another.
    Storge love is defined as brotherly love. Such as with a sibling or parent/child.
    Hope I helped!

rebelling against low expectations

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