Loving people can be hard but also so rewarding. It all depends on the people in our lives. If you’re life is anything like mine, you’ve got plenty of difficult people in it who make loving them kinda hard.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus managed to love all the difficult people in His life?
‘Cuz boy oh boy were there a lot of them. Today we’re going to answer the “how do I love difficult people” question by looking at how Jesus showed unconditional love to the difficult, hard to love people in His life.
But first we’re going to define love, so we’ll better understand what the Bible says about how to love.
Be sure to grab your Bible study guide here: 3 Lessons from Jesus on Loving Difficult People so you can answer the questions in today’s post.
Love is a word we tend to toss about pretty loosely. I love this food, that sweater, your lipstick…
We love a lot of “stuff” but do we understand what it is to love like God loves?
Do we know how God defines love?
It’s important we know this because loving as God loves and as Jesus did, is tough.
Francis Chan said “He measures our lives by how we love”. And he’s right. As women of God our lives should be lived as an offering, poured out to God because of the love He’s poured into us.
1 John 4:8 tells us “God is love”. Love is the very nature of God and everything He does flows from His love.
Since creation God’s wanted relationship with His people. He loves you and I so much that from the beginning of time He had a perfect plan to ensure sin wouldn’t derail our relationship with Him.
He bridged the gap sin causes with Jesus and Jesus is the complexly simple way God defines love.
God is love and Jesus is the living definition of how God defines love.
It’s what John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.
Jesus’ life defines love and how we’re to love the difficult, the unlovable, well…everyone. Now let’s see how Jesus showed unconditional love to some difficult people.
Will you promise me something first though?
- Would you ask the Holy Spirit to help you put these next three things into action?
Because no matter how amazing you are, you can’t love like Christ loved without the Holy Spirit’s help.
Unconditional Love in Action
Before we dive into loving the difficult people in our lives, I want you to look in the mirror. Believe me when I tell you, I’m looking in the mirror with you.
- When’s the last time you were difficult or hard to love?
- When’s the last time you were selfish, stubborn, pushy, bossy, or anything but selfless and loving?
If you’re like me this happens more often than we’d honestly like to admit. Being lovable isn’t an easy feat.
So while your reading through this next section, remember the last time you were difficult to love and how you’d have wanted someone to love you in that moment.
If you didn’t download the Bible study guide yet, grab it here: 3 Lessons from Jesus on Loving Difficult People so you can answer today’s questions.
The New Testament is peppered with interactions Jesus had with the Pharisees and let me tell you…those were some difficult people to deal with. They literally followed Jesus around with one intent, catch Him doing something wrong so they could get Him in trouble.
- Do you have someone like that in your life? Someone who’s only agenda appears to be getting you in trouble?
- Write down what you know about their life (not what they do to you).
In Matthew 9:1-17 you find three different vignettes where Jesus is loving people and the Pharisees are there trying to get Him in trouble.
In each situation Jesus replies by asking a question. Not defending Himself and not explaining why He was right.
Nope, instead He asked questions He knew they could answer.
Correctly answering would also explain what and why He did what He did, and why everyone else should do the same.
- What questions could you ask the next time a difficult person tries to make you feel uncomfortable?
- Prayerfully write a few questions out based on what you know about each difficult person in your life.
Then spend a few minutes praying for each person. But don’t pray God would stop them from causing you trouble. Instead pray they’d recognize Him and He’d use you to reveal His love to them.
Do you have people who’re constantly needing stuff from you? Constantly asking you questions, busting in on your conversations, or never respecting your personal space?
Sometimes difficult people are like the Canaanite woman who kept pestering Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28.
I think Jesus understands what you’re dealing with. The Pharisees were always doing this to Him and so were other people, like this woman. People always wanted things from Jesus and always wanted to be around Him.
Can you blame them?
And while this is actually a really good thing, it’s interesting to see Jesus appearing (key word) to ignore her and His disciples.
Jesus had just finished talking with a crowd of people and I bet He was tired and caught up in what He and His disciples had been doing.
It’s easy to get so caught up in our to-do lists, even when they involve doing things God’s asked us to, that we miss the needs right in front of us. But Jesus didn’t miss this woman’s need. I think He timed things perfectly so all of us would learn a lesson (the Canaanite woman included).
- When you have a need, don’t stop pursuing God.
- Even when we feel ignored, trust that God hears.
- Adjust your plans and ask God to show you the true needs of others.
Would you take a moment and ask God to show you the needs of the hard to love difficult people in your life?
In Luke 4:16-30 we find Jesus at the synagogue (church) in His hometown and having just read from Isaiah. Immediately after the people were “speaking well of Him” and amazed at what He’d said.
We’d say they’d “loved what Jesus had said,” but…they weren’t showing true love.
Two small paragraphs later their love turned vile. “They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.” Luke 4:29
Yup, with one breath they were all lovey dovey and praising Jesus and with the next trying to kill Him.
Talk about a difficult situation and a group of super duper difficult people.
Jesus didn’t argue, He didn’t try to justify His stance, and didn’t try to convince them He was right. Nope.
He did nothing but walk away.
Luke 4:30 says “but He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.”
Sometimes we’ve got to do the same. But there’s a catch, we can’t walk away from people unless the Holy Spirit’s told us that’s what we’re supposed to do.
- What difficult people are in your life right now?
Make a note of them on the Bible Study PDF you can find here: 3 Lessons from Jesus on Loving Difficult People
There are a million other lessons we could learn from how Jesus dealt with difficult people but those three are all God wanted me to share with you. Kinda… Because there’s one final love lesson I want to leave you with and that’s Unexpectant Love.
God’s love means He continually loves and pours Himself out for us because we’re His. You’re God’s and because of that He’ll never stop
- listening to,
- providing for, comforting, or
- forgiving you.
John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave…” and Romans 5:8 says “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus is how God defines love and we learn to love others by following the examples Jesus set.
It means you and I purposefully, actively, and lovingly sacrifice our wants and desires to share God’s love with others.
You are God’s hands and feet. He has chosen you, called you the temple of God, and made you the Holy Spirit’s dwelling place.
Why’d He do this?
One big reason is because He wants you to reflect and demonstrate His love so that the watching world can see what TRUE love is.
- Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you live this out?
Loving others isn’t easy. We just saw this in Jesus’ three love examples. Loving difficult people is hard and can’t be done without the Holy Spirit’s power working through us.
- How can you lovingly ask questions, willingly adjust, and walk away?
Until next time remember…
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20