At the root of loving others is the ability to forgive them for the perceived wrong they have executed against you. Perceived wrong? More often than not, we believe someone has wronged us when sometimes it’s a simple misunderstanding. Failure to communicate with others leads to a road of bitterness and a failure to forgive them.
Originally, I questioned this title. “Who doesn’t deserve to be loved?” I asked. Initially, we think of those who are easy to love: babies, children, spouses, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, Church Family. At times, however, they can be difficult to get along with, and sometimes we would rather not deal with them. They may test the boundaries of the relationship, which can create emotional and physical distance. The distance created can deepen based on a failure to communicate our differing perspectives.
A broken heart, disappointment, manipulation, and deception can be devastating. We find ourselves at odds with those who have brought these issues into our lives. Forgiving and moving forward may be difficult. We’re unable to see beyond our pain. Sometimes it may be comfortable to hold onto that pain because its familiar, a comfort zone, so to speak. With time, proper communication, faith in God, sacrificial love, and patience, these relationships can be healed.
However, the more I began to ponder this question, the more I thought about individuals that do not fall into these parameters: murderers, rapists, abusers, human traffickers. These, and other members of the criminal element we sometimes consider as “riff-raff,” are not easy to love.
We’re faced with the action they have committed against us, a family member, a loved one, or society in general. In our minds, we morally sentence them to death, because the crime they’ve committed is unpardonable to us. Sometimes it can be difficult to look beyond the wrong and focus on their heart. It’s easy to believe their heart isn’t deserving of love, because we know actions stem from the heart.
Then, I began to think about Mary Magdalene, Joab, Ahab, Jezebel, and Zaccheus. I have named a prostitute, a traitor, murderers, a seductress, and the scorned tax collector. (Tax collector? These Jewish citizens were seen as traitors, despised because they worked for the oppressive Roman government, and became wealthy off their fellow Jews.)
If Jesus was able to love them, and commanded us to love others as He loved us (John 13:34), how can we not obey this command? How can we withhold love from anyone? Society places definitions on what’s good and bad in terms of our wrongdoing, and what’s acceptable and not. Comparing murderers to liars is simply unacceptable in this society. In God’s eyes, the unrighteous (anyone) will not inherit His kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He judges our thoughts as well as our actions, because our actions are derived from our hearts (Matthew 12:34).
When we look at people with our natural eyes (flesh), we are unable to excuse their grievous behaviors. If we were ever required to forgive wrongdoers through the flesh, I believe no one would be forgiven. Can you imagine if God were like us? There would be no hope, no grace, no mercy, no salvation! That thought grieves my soul, but God is so wonderful! He would not allow us to perish like that without giving us a way out.
Instead, we must look at, love, and forgive one another with our spiritual awareness. That’s why we were filled with His Spirit. God already knew that there were many things we could not do of our own accord. Therefore, He gave us supernatural power from on high to accomplish the many things we are simply too weak to do on our own (Romans 8:1-8).
The greatest command we were given is to love one another as He loved us. His love is patient and forgiving of those who are His enemies (Luke 23:33-34), serving others despite His position (John 13:12-14), and sacrificial for all (Romans 5:8). If He gave of Himself in such a selfless manner out of love, shouldn’t we humbly obey His greatest command?
Some may scoff at my insinuation to love some of these individuals. “How can you say that,” you ask? My family and I have been victims of some of those same ones I’ve pointed out. We hurt. We’re devastated. And still, we love. Because He gives us strength to love.
If you’ve been wronged by anyone, recall your greatest sins. He’s already forgiven you, and still loves you in spite of them. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Loving those who you feel are “undeserving of love” simply requires you to lean on and trust Him.
He’ll supply you with all the love you need in order to love others, even those that do not deserve it.
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