Throughout the month of February, stores are full of beautifully ordered cards that have sayings scribbled across them that boast phrases like, “I love you” and “Be mine.” You can even buy shirts and pajamas that have feel-good sayings written across them in bold letters encouraging you to love others.
If only loving someone was that easy.
The world makes love sound so easy and effortless. True, sacrificial, unconditional love is not easy though, friend. Sure, it is easy to love someone you really like and care about. It is not, however, easy to love someone you hate.
Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (KJV).
Matthew 5:43-44 says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (KJV).
When we really dig deep into Scripture we realize that loving someone is not so easy after all, but we are still commanded by God to love others even when they hurt us.
Even when they use us.
Even when they persecute us.
Even when they...
I spent many years hating my father. I fought tooth and nail to not be in his life by ignoring him and moving on with my life. When it came time to go to his house for the weekend, I would do everything in my power to make it a miserable weekend. It is hard for me to admit but I hated him to my core. At that time, I was deeply hurt that he abandoned me and my brother and I felt as if our family was incomplete (as it was). When he eventually moved across the country when I was in high school, I remember internally saying, “Ahh… I can finally rest and forget about him.”
Or so I thought.
God began to unravel all the hurt inside of me and break my heart for my father. He pricked my heart and still does, to remind me in His word that not only am I, as a Christian, called to love, but also called to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). I didn’t want to forgive him. I thought I could move on and forget about the whole thing but that is not what we are called to do as Christians. I fought years of bitterness, rage, and grief and still have to give that pain over to God when it bubbles up inside of me from time to time. Loving someone you hate is hard, but God calls us to do it.
Maybe you’ve been hurt deeply by someone and you hate them with every fiber of your being. People can hurt us so deeply that we must spend years in counseling and years in prayer over it as we heal. There are certain situations where we no longer need to be in someone’s life of course, but we still have to forgive them to move on and fully heal.
My husband often says, “Forgiving someone is not a one-time event. When that person comes to mind and you begin to feel the hate rise up you have to forgive them all over again.”
This statement is a great reminder as we are only imperfect flesh and blood. I am learning that the key to genuinely loving others, even when they hurt us, is to remember two important truths.
1. How deeply we are loved by Jesus Christ.
2. How much we have been forgiven of.
Jesus Christ endured unimaginable physical pain on the cross of Calvary to save us from our sins. He died to bridge the gap for us to get to God and to have hope of life after death in heaven. We forsake Him, turn our backs on Him, and even as Christians we fail Him every single day. When we place our faith in Him, He saves us and forgives us of every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will ever commit.
Daily we fail Him, yet He forgives us.
As God has worked on my heart throughout these last few years, I have been able to form a relationship with my father and love him the way I am called to. Each morning I wake up and look at a person in the mirror who has been forgiven of much, therefore, I am daily asking God to help me see and love others the way He does.
If you’re struggling to love someone you hate, I pray that you trust God to heal you and help you love others the way He calls His children to. It requires a lot of dying to ourselves daily, but it shines the light of our savior to a world that desperately needs Him.
*Originally published on authors blog here.*
Read more about Jordan here!