As believers in Christ, we are commanded to love people, that is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31). Well, at first glance or first thought, this appears to be an easy command; even something that seems quite natural to do. One reason is because we ourselves desire to be loved. But the challenge immediately arises when we have to actually communicate with and know and deal with PEOPLE, especially people outside of our immediate families or circles.
No two people are alike, not just in how they look but also in how they think and in how they behave. Sure, there are generalizations; however, when each of us deals with someone who is not quite like us or who disagrees with us, we are instantly confronted with whether or not to like or love them.
The command to love does not come with conditional statements like if they do this or that. So, there are no options that would allow us to rightly choose not to love someone. God has made this plain all throughout Scripture by Himself, demonstrating just how much He, being God Almighty and Our Creator, loves people, who in no way are His equal. We cannot even say that we truly love God if we don’t love people, according to 1 John.
We can’t choose to love only those we like or only those we agree with. We are commanded to love everybody, both the likable and the unlikable; friend and foe. What a doable challenge! God instructs us on how to love people in 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12. God Himself is our model and our Teacher through Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 speaks loudly on why we should love people, including our enemies. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We should love people because Jesus Christ loved us enough to die for us while we were still sinners. You see, as sinners, we are unquestionably enemies of God, who is holy. But He loved us anyway, enough to send His one and only begotten Son to die for our sins to save us. That should be enough to love all people.
Loving people (and I mean ALL people) means that you want the best for them just like you want it for yourself (Luke 6:27-28, 31, 35). Loving people means being quick to forgive and loving people in spite of their faults. The best way to do this is to never forget that you are one of the people and that you nor no one else is absolutely perfect. So, we are subject to be offensive to someone else, to disappoint someone else, to mistreat someone else, to be sinful towards someone else. Knowing this does not negate our desire to be loved. The cliche is to love me for who I am or to love me for me. That’s what everybody wants, and that’s what God commands us to give.
Loving people doesn’t mean ...
Loving people doesn’t bypass consequences for actions. Loving people doesn’t necessitate that relationships remain exactly the same. Loving people doesn’t mean giving people everything they want. Loving people doesn’t mean being in total agreement about everything and so on.
Loving people means ...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. …
According to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, loving people means loving them enough to be patient or long suffering with them. Loving people means loving them enough to be kind, nice, sympathetic, generous, gentle, thoughtful, compassionate, considerate, or caring with/towards them. Loving people enough means not being envious, resentful of, covetous of, spiteful of, begrudging of them. Loving people means not boasting, not being a braggart, not vaunting, not being pretentious or being self-absorbed. Loving people means not being proud, not being conceited, not being self-important, not being pompous, not being self-righteous, egotistical, or overbearing. Loving people means not being rude, vulgar, offensive, disrespectful, foul, crude, or indecent towards people. Loving people means not being self-seeking, self-centered, egocentric, or selfish. Loving people means not being easily angered, annoyed, enraged, exasperated, irritated, frustrated, incensed, provoked with/by them. Loving people means not keeping any record of wrongs, insults, offenses, abuses, trespasses, sins. Loving people means not delighting in evil, wickedness, sinfulness, or immorality. Loving people means rejoicing with the truth, genuineness, facts, truthfulness, integrity, fidelity, or honesty. Love, like God’s agape love, always protects, shields, shelters, safeguards, looks after, or watches over them. Love always trusts, has faith in, relies on, depends on, counts on, or has confidence in people. Love for ALL people always perseveres, continues, sticks it out, endures, keeps on, or presses on. In light of how much God loves us, Love for ALL people, should never fail, disappoint, neglect, forsake, desert, betray, fade, diminish, or wane.
We should love people this much!
Are you feeling challenged? Are you feeling like you can love only some people this way? If you find that you have not been loving people (ALL people) in the right way, then you should be quick to repent and move forward loving ALL people the right way. This means that we have to see ALL people the way that God sees them. To this, you have to learn from Scripture how God sees them. As God’s creation, all mankind or ALL people have been made in His image, Imago Dei (Genesis 1:26-28). God loves the people He made.
John 3:16 NIV11
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 12:9-10 NIV11
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
1 Peter 4:8 NIV11
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 John 3:14-18 NIV11
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 4:7-21 NIV11
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Luke 6:27-35 NIV11
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.