Jesus turns the tables on how we view relationships

Written by William Dmytrow

I enjoy being loved by everyone. I find it quite simple to love those who invest in me and seek friendship. In other words, loving people who love me. But I get all jittery and tense when people just straight up don’t like me.

In a certain scenario when I had a conflict, I handled it in a way that wasn’t loving. I felt extremely uncomfortable being around this person. I isolated myself away from him as much as I could, and I talked trash behind his back. I just want to put it out there—this is not how anyone deserves to be treated. I regret how I acted in that situation.

Luckily, we have an awesome understanding from the Word of God on how we should treat others even when they simply don’t love us back.

First, in Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount, He makes a shocking but powerful statement: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). This is the opposite of what we naturally want to do. Imagine a world where everyone loved their enemies and treated them with compassion. I think we’d be in a drastically different place than where we are now.

The best (but also the hardest) part of Christ’s command is that it doesn’t just begin with everyone around you—it begins with you. Loving people unconditionally will change the world. It is an absolute.

So, if Jesus is right here, and I think He is, this means I have to reframe my earlier response to the guy I had a hard time with. I’d have to love this person even when I didn’t want too. I’d choose to bless him and do good to him. Instead of talking behind his back, I could pray for him.

Love them. Bless them. Pray for them.

Make it a step of obedience to love everyone without conditions, and learn what it means to do this. Perhaps start by sending an encouraging text to someone you haven’t encouraged well lately and maintain contact with them. Consider small, helpful, or loving gifts that demonstrate you recognize their value. Perhaps ask them for coffee or lunch and pay for them.

To bless means to come from a heart-posture that wishes only the best for others.

A way to demonstrate blessing is doing good things for a person even when those actions don’t benefit you right away.

Lastly, pray for this person. Write a list of things you can pray for them so you can build them up. Commit to praying for them every day for just two minutes. God will not only work in their lives, but He perhaps will change your heart too through this regular act.

If you want to better our world, this is a step in the right direction. Jesus loved the tax collectors. He healed the lepers and cared for the poor. He loves those who are not loved by anyone else and even loves those who do not love him back. He died on the cross and was resurrected for all people’s sins. Jesus is the ultimate example of what it means to love those who may not love us back.

The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Let Christ’s life be the reason for your love, and let His love transform the way you love those who don’t love you.