“I hate you and everyone hates you. No one likes you!” Those are the words I heard screamed some years ago from a neighboring backyard. It was followed by sobs, more screams and, from what I could tell, lots of hurt.
In fact, it made me hurt. I was so sad as the person who was on the receiving end of such hate. I determined then and there that I would never speak to someone that way for as long as I lived.
Sadly, we can be really good at finding reasons to dislike someone. We are often experts of the critical eye. And we figure that our dislike of a person is justified because they’re obnoxious, nerdy, stuck up, serious, funny, not stylish enough, too ugly or even too pretty. Need I go on?
Do you know why we really struggle with loving people? It’s because of our sinful nature. It always wants to put us in a place of pride and superiority.
That’s why we have to fight for godly love in our relationships. God, in his word, makes it clear that Christ-like love is a must for people who call themselves Christians.
Here are God’s three reasons why we should love people:
God loves people.
No one loves people more than God does. He proved his love for us by sending us Jesus according to John 3:16-17, “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Let’s apply this verse directly to someone you dislike.
“God so loved (the person you can’t stand) that he sent his one and only Son, that if they believe in him they will not perish but have everlasting life.”
This perspective changes everything.
It was God’s demonstration of his great love for people according to Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God commands us to love people.
Jesus couldn’t have given it to us any simpler than he did when responding to a question from one of the Jewish leaders of his day in Matthew 22:36-40, “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
Did you catch that? Loving God and loving people go hand in hand. You cannot truly understand what it means to love your neighbor if you don’t love Jesus first.
There is nothing in your life more important than these two commands. Why? Because they help us fulfill all of the other commands. That position makes loving people extremely important.
Loving people shows the world we belong to Jesus.
Question: If you were to evaluate your life right now by the way you love people what would it show? According to 1 John 4:7-8, if we love people the way Jesus commanded us to, it shows that we are children of God: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
The only reason we know how to love each other is because God teaches it to us through the life of his son Jesus. He is the only reason we know what true love really is. It’s in that true love that we prove to the world that we are followers of Jesus, according to John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Think about it this way, the way you treat people and the way you love them is like a giant billboard on the side of the highway. It either says “I follow Jesus” or “I hate people.” What does your billboard say?
The best time to start loving people is right now.
Zachary Elliott is the lead pastor of Fusion Christian Church in Temecula. For more information, visit https://www.fusionchristianchurch.com, https://fourminutefaithbuilder.com or find them on Instagram.