How to Love the Unlovable
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, so that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.
Sometimes reading verses about God’s grace and blessing can be hard because often things feel like they’re not as it should be. When we pause to see what’s happening in our lives, it’s not hard to see injustice plagues our world. All we have to do is turn on the news to realize it’s true. But what about on a personal level? So often, people fail to keep their word, which leads to pain. The destructive nature of this sin leaves broken families and relationships in its wake. We all know the pain of these realities and long for these things to be made right. Where are God’s grace and blessing in these moments? It’s easy to question if this restoration will come, but it’s passages like Psalm 67 that remind us it’s possible.
Psalm 67:4 says, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you, judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth.”
In this verse, the Psalmist reminds us that God is a King who rules well. His justice and guidance are cause for the nations to sing for joy! We have hope that the restoration of this world will occur, and we should pray for this to happen through the worship of God! This prayer should lead to our love for the nations and active participation in seeing God bless them.
But who are the nations? When we hear this term, we probably think of the diverse groups of people that can be found in our backyards and around the world, which, of course, would be accurate. However, do we ever stop to recognize this means EVERYONE in our world? Do we realize that the very people who have sinned against us or hurt us the most make up the nations? If we truly want everyone in this world to praise God, then this must also include those who have mistreated us. Realizing who the nations are might make it difficult to pray for their blessing. Why? Because we’re asking God to love everyone, including those we struggle to love.
This posture is not our natural inclination.
I struggle to love those who have hurt me. In general, it’s not easy for me to let others into my life. When people get close to me, it feels like an extreme act of trust on my part. There are times where it feels like people take my trust for granted, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s hard to love these people sometimes, but loving them is the very heart of God. We often fail to remember we all wound God in the same ways those who have wronged us have.
Hosea 11:7 says, “My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all.”
When people turn their backs on me, there is a part of me deep down that wants to retaliate. I’m sure we have all felt this before. When God thinks of retaliating, His reaction couldn’t be more opposite. God says, “…My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.” (Hosea 11:8).
What God is saying here is beautiful. He’s telling us that even when we turn our backs on Him, the thought of doing the same to us disgusts Him — to the point where He responds with compassion instead.
Turning the pages of the Bible to the New Testament, we see precisely how disgusted God is at the thought of turning His back on us. Paul beautifully details God’s heart in Philippians 2:5–11. The Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sin by dying on the cross. Not only this, but Jesus willingly left the infinite glory of heaven to come to the garbage heap of this earth to live the life of a servant. Jesus lived perfectly, yet He died a death He didn’t deserve. Three days later, He was raised to life again by the power of God. Now, He is exalted and reigning at the right hand of the Father!
We’re to take THIS HOPE to the nations, which includes those who have wronged us. Just before these verses in Philippians 2:3–4, Paul gives the charge to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Thinking of others before ourselves is never easy, which is especially true when we feel we’ve been wronged. The amazing thing is God makes this mind of humility available to us in Christ. Just as reconciliation with God is available to us through Christ, it’s through Christ’s humility that leads us to desire reconciliation with others — even those we struggle to love because they have caused us pain.
This is part of what it looks like to experience restoration now as we submit ourselves to God’s rule. Living in this way changes our hearts. It’s through Christ I desire retaliation less and reconciliation more! It’s through Christ I can continue to extend grace even when it’s hard! It’s through Christ I pray for the spiritual flourishing of those who have hurt me! It’s through Christ I hope to see these very people and myself conformed more to His image! It’s through Christ that we all can desire these things and come to see the nations praise God!
Even when things don’t feel they’re as it should be, we have hope because God blesses His people for the good of the nations.