I was thinking this morning about loving the unlovable. Who are they and how do I love them?
Some say the unlovable are those difficult to love because they are different in personality or life circumstance. For me though, it is far easier to love someone at a distance (stranger or acquaintance) that I don’t understand or even disagree with, than to love those near to me who have hurt or offended me, even in a small way.
During my morning devotions today, God was reminding me of this sin struggle, this lack of love. He was bringing to mind specific people I have not loved well. I was reflecting on my interactions with some of these people and feeling a little defensive, thinking I had not really been unloving to them. Then the Holy Spirit (as He is so faithful to do) showed me the reality hidden behind my own denial…
He started by reminding me that I am honest.
Some might think my honesty is a mature character quality, but to be honest ;) I can’t help it. It’s just who I am. I remember a night in high school when my mom was questioning me about something. “Did you ….?” she asked. I looked at her (heavy with guilt) and said “No!... yes (hanging my head).” My lie lasted about 1 second. I just couldn’t do it.
My honesty goes much deeper than simply speaking the truth though, and this is where it gets ugly. You see, I wear my thoughts and emotions on my sleeve. Actually I wear them on my face. If you know me, you can testify to this. I use to joke about how I could never be a waitress because I couldn’t handle the stress so every customer that irritated me would see it all over my face! I’d certainly go broke for lack of tips!
This unavoidable honesty means I can’t just "put on a happy face". The Bible says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34). In my case, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the face scowls…or glares…or grimaces…or rolls its eyes…” You get the picture.
So, the Spirit opened my eyes to see that there are people in my life, whom I have failed miserably to love…and they have no doubt seen it on my face.
I am sad. Sad to know that I have used my silence as a defense. I have believed that if I was not speaking unloving words, then I wasn’t really being unloving. I have convinced myself that these people I struggle to love are surely oblivious…and now I am faced with the reality that these people are probably all too aware of my attitude toward them.
As I write, I find myself confronted with the reality that much of the “Love Passage” (1 Cor. 13) speaks of attitudes of the heart, not actions or words.
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Cor. 13:1-6
So I find myself going back to the original questions...
Who are the unlovable and how do I love them?...and I realize - I am the unlovable. I am ungrateful and unpleasant and unforgiving and unkind. I am broken.
I am the unlovable…and Jesus loves me.
Jesus loves even ME!?!
So how do I love as Christ loves?
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 Jn. 4:7, 12-13)
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit was is contrary to the sinful nature…But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”(Gal. 5:16-17,22a)
Oh Lord, may I remember the great love you have for me, inspite of me. And by the power of your Holy Spirit living in me and remembering your ongoing grace toward me, may I love others well, completely, from deep in my heart...and may that love shine beautifully from my face.