About Liking and Loving…

by Lester Young

God is all about love. Consequently, Jesus is, too. So, it should come as no great shock to anyone who’s been around longer than fifteen minutes that, as disciples, we should be big on love, as well (1 John 4:16-17). But, have you ever noticed that…I mean…well…everybody just ain’t real easy to love? As a matter of fact, it seems as though some folks go farrrr out of their way to make themselves about as un-lovely as they can be. Really…what’s up with that?

It would probably be a good idea to correctly identify the sentiments we’re actually talking about when dealing with such people. Now, certainly, we’re commanded to love all of our fellow mankind, and that’s exactly what we should do (Galatians 5:14; Matthew 5:44-45). But, I challenge you or anyone to find in the Holy Bible where it says we have to ‘like’ everyone. No point in wasting your time looking, because it’s just not in there. Do you think Jesus ‘liked’ those religious leaders who followed Him around arguing and trying to refute Him in everything He said or did? Do you think He ‘liked’ Herod very much after His cousin John the Baptist was beheaded by him? (Matthew 14:3-13) You think He was feeling great fondness for those merchants as He chased them out of the Temple, whip in hand, for opening up a Wal-Mart in there? (Matthew 21:12-13) Do you think Jesus really liked those people who had Him hung on that cross and then sat around making fun of Him as He died there? Would you have liked them?

Jesus had (and has) the same feelings that you and I do. That’s why He fully understands what we go through – because He went through much more of it than we ever will (Hebrews 2:16-18, 12:3-4). He didn’t particularly like those people who mistreated Him any more than you or I would have – but then, He wasn’t commanded to like them. He was commanded to love them, and that’s a whole different ball game. ‘Liking’ is nothing more than a sentiment of personal fondness or agreeableness based solely in the area of human (read, ‘carnal’) emotions. But, ‘Love’ is a spiritual force (the most powerful spiritual force, in fact [1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 John 4:16]), and it actually has nothing whatsoever to do with natural ‘feelings.’ Love is tied inextricably to ‘action’ (Galatians 5:6; James 2:15-17), and it’s activated purely by a choice of one’s own will. So, even though Jesus understandably may have had no personal fondness toward those people, by an undeniable act of His will – in which He was willingly obedient to the will and plan of His Father – He nevertheless did what was necessary for their benefit (John 10:17-18). That’s what Love is: it’s acting in a manner that will be a blessing and benefit to your neighbor – regardless of whether or not you like or even know them personally, and without regard to yourself  (Romans 13:10; 1 John 3:16).

So, don’t get all caught up in feeling guilty about not particularly liking someone who just isn’t very likeable anyway. It doesn’t matter. As long as your feelings are legitimately justified, it’s not wrong to have them. However, it’s absolutely wrong to be led by them. Remember, we walk by faith and not by sight – nor by any other physical senses or emotions (2 Corinthians 5:7). And we’re to be led, not by our feelings, but by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Romans 8:1, 14). Just do whatever you can to love them (by faith, and through clenched teeth, if you have to – ‘act’ in love toward them), bless them, be at peace with them and pray for them (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:18). Don’t ever forget how the Lord has never failed to act lovingly toward you on those ‘few’ occasions when you were the one who was kind of…umm…well…un-lovely.

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4 Comments to “About Liking and Loving…”

  1. “liking” is of the senses and feelings, whereas love is an act of the will, seeing beyond the person and making a decision to love. Indeed, Christ died for the ungodly, out of love, even though many times the ungodly are not easy to “like”. Thought-provoking post, Lester. Thank you. Dee

    • Isn’t it interesting that as we take a few moments to closely examine things, all things – from the mundane to the large and unusual situations in our life – they all generally can be boiled down to a ‘choice’ on our part…we can either go the way that our flesh and the world dictates, or go the way that God says in His Word. As always, thanks for your comments, Dee.

      Lester

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