When you hear the phrase “tough love” what comes to mind? For most of us, probably some form of discipline, right? Tough love is when you make the hard decision to exercise authority in some form of punishment in response to an unintelligent choice made by someone we love. We show them “tough love” by reprimanding them, even if we don’t necessarily want to, because we know that, in the end, they will benefit from it.
Quick 180! That’s not exactly what I am talking…typing about here. I am “typing” about something a little different. Have you ever been frustrated with someone? Unhappy with someone? Is there someone that you know personally or impersonally that you have to try really really hard to like/ tolerate but you tend to lose that battle? Maybe it’s a co-worker, family member, or church member. Or maybe it’s a celebrity, politician, or a well-known business man. We all have that one person – or two, or three, or nearly everyone haha – that, for some reason, tangible or not, that we just don’t like. And loving them? No way. Out of the question.
Which brings me to my next thought. Liking vs. Loving. To like someone or something means to find them, or it, “agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory,” whereas, to love means to have “an intense feeling of deep affection” towards someone or something. Okay. Good news then bad news. You don’t have to like everyone. It is okay to disagree with people. It is okay to not enjoy being around certain people, but the cold hard – just the way I like my drinks! haha – truth is that being without love for other people is not okay.
You might be telling yourself, like I tell myself, “I do that. I love certain people, I just don’t like them.” But do you? Do you really? Regardless of how “disagreeable” or “unenjoyable” you find certain people, do you maintain an intense feeling of deep affection for them even when their actions towards you or other people are not “satisfactory?” Loving those that don’t treat you well, don’t love you back, or have ill intent for you is probably the hardest thing you and I will ever do, but it does not change the fact that being without love for other people is sinful. Why? Ephesians 5 says “Be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love.” In Matthew 22 Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and in Matthew 5 He calls us to “love our enemies.” And then in Romans 5:8 it says that God demonstrated His love – His intense feeling of deep affection for us – by dying for us, even though we were sinners. Did God find us agreeable? Did He find us satisfactory? Absolutely not. We were sinners. Which means we were openly and actively betraying God. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
Isn’t that crazy! God’s love for us runs so deep that, regardless of how we treat Him, He would lay down His life for us, build us up, and help us to become better people filled with kindness and love and bestow to us the greatest blessings that He, the creator of all things, could possibly ever give us – life, hope, forgiveness, and making us members of His family with an inheritance in heaven.
So, when you and I say, “I love them, I just don’t like them,” Do you love them like that? Like God loves us? Because that is what we are called to do. Today, consider how you might bless, not only those people that you don’t like, but also those people that don’t like you, thus showing them an active love like Christ.