The profoundness of this verse reveals how incapable I am of loving others. My love is so imperfect compared to God’s love. My love tends to be conditional while God’s love is completely unconditional. My love is responsive to how I am treated, while God’s love is consistent, supportive, and uplifting. This verse bypasses my weaknesses and challenges me to the unimaginable.
Fulfilling this command requires two things for a follower of Christ. First, you must be deep in Jesus. The Godly character required in this verse will only flow out of the intimacy of your relationship with Jesus. Seldom will you act out this verse correctly, but it is like a neon sign revealing how much of Jesus is in you. Skimming the top in your walk with Jesus will result in you crashing and burning when faced with the challenge of loving the unlovable.
Second, living this type life will teach you to trust God as never before. It is when your incapacity is greatest that God’s provision is needed most. Often these times do not just require enduring, but actually ministering to those who have hurt you most. This is the radical Christianity that Jesus taught and lived. Jesus vividly illustrated this in Matthew 5:39b-42, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (NIV) It is during these times that you call upon God not only for the strength to love, but also for the wisdom to see God’s work in what is happening.
Next time you are confronted with loving the unlovable take note of how full your love tank is with Jesus. Trust God’s best for you and the other as you love the unlovable regardless of the circumstances. Take this step of faith by seeking God’s strength, wisdom, and direction. Be ready to do more when God uses His love through you to jolt this person’s world as Proverbs 25:22 describes, “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (NIV) See these times as opportunities not for revenge or piety, but opportunities to use God’s life in you to refine the other to desire God’s holiness.