Why Are We Called to Love Others When it’s Hard?

God wants us to love others as He loves us. This can be hard, yet it is vitally important. Loving others doesn’t mean we like what they do, but rather, it means we are making the intentional decision to love them.

Why Are We Called to Love Others When it’s Hard?

The concept of loving others even when it’s hard is often overlooked in the modern day. While it is easy to love others when they are nice to us, it can be a completely different story if someone is mean, cruel, or hateful toward us. In our modern society, we are not taught the fullness of loving others.

Instead, we love those who are kind to us or help us, yet God calls us to love all people, even those who are mean to us.

Loving Others

Jesus tells us directly, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

From Jesus’ words, we are told the vital truth that we are to love God and love others. This can be difficult teaching for many of us, especially if we grew up with neglect or trauma. We are taught that love begins at home, yet many of us were not shown love growing up.

Rather than being shown love, we were abused, hurt, or hated simply for existing. In these instances, it can be extremely hard to love those who have hurt us or to love those who never extended love to us.

Recently my sister and I were doing a Bible study, and the Bible study brought up the question of whether it’s harder to extend a small gesture of kindness to a stranger or to someone who has hurt you. This question caused me to start thinking critically about my everyday experiences.

Why was it easier to smile or say hello to a passing stranger than it was to say hello or smile at a family member? The secret is that with strangers, we don’t have to start a relationship with them. We can simply just acknowledge each other and go our own ways.

However, with family members or friends, it can be harder to extend a simple smile or hello when they have severely hurt you because you love them.

While we are supposed to love all people, it is undoubtedly true that our stronger love does extend to our friends, family, or spouse. This is why it is so much harder to love our loved ones when they hurt us.

Since we love them, it hurts us more. Even if others are mean to us, God still wants us to extend love to them. Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

God wants us to love others as He loves us. This can be hard, yet it is vitally important. Loving others doesn’t mean we like what they do, but rather, it means we are making the intentional decision to love them.

Despite what we are taught through books, films, and songs, love is an active choice. It’s not merely a feeling but rather a choice.

We have to choose to love the other person even when it’s hard. We don’t have to have a feeling or a desire to love them, instead, we are choosing to love them anyway.

Every day we have to make the active choice that we are going to love others, even if they are mean to us, make fun of us, or laugh when we cry. 

When It’s Hard

Through pain and problems, many individuals simply make us feel that we could never love them. True, we may never have feelings of love for them, but we actively have to choose to love even when it feels impossible.

Loving others means putting another person’s own wants and desires over your own. Jesus showed us the ultimate definition of love by dying on the cross for our sins (John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Each of us once lived in rebellion and sin against the Lord. Whenever we sin, we hurt God. Despite our sins, God chose to send His Son, Jesus, into the world to redeem us from our sins. This is the ultimate portrait of love because there is no greater love than the love God had for us.

Since Jesus is the second member of the Trinity, it means He is God. Thus, this means that God Himself came down from heaven to save us from our sins, restore our broken relationship with Him, and give us eternal life.

Even after we are saved, we all continue to sin, yet despite our sins, God doesn’t love us any less. His love for us is steady and steadfast.

Jesus tells us, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:13). Through this command by Jesus, we are told we need to love others the same way Jesus loves us. This means we must love all people even when it’s hard because Jesus loves everybody.

While loving someone doesn’t excuse their actions, it does mean that we are choosing to love them as God tells us to do. In our love for others, we can display it in a variety of ways.

We can be kind even when others are mean, we can be forgiving when others hold unforgiveness, and we can extend compassion when others put us down.

This is a hard concept to grasp because it goes against our sinful human nature. Our sinful human nature urges us to repay evil with evil, but the Holy Spirit inside us convicts us to do the exact opposite.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone” (Romans 12:17).

In addition to Paul’s words on the matter, the Apostle Peter tells us, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

As both Paul and Peter tell us, we don’t need to repay evil with evil. Instead, we are to extend love, kindness, and forgiveness to others.

A huge part of loving others is the concept of forgiveness. It is hard to love others when we are holding onto unforgiveness. In order to truly love others, we need to forgive them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what they did was okay, nor does it mean it was forgotten.

Rather, forgiveness means we are giving the matter over to God and releasing all the pain to Him. Being hurt by others is painful and can cause us to hold unforgiveness against the person. We cannot fully love them unless we have truly forgiven them in our hearts.

This is a difficult thing to do, yet it is important for us to forgive others and trust God to carry our burden. Nothing is too heavy for God, including our past pain.

Why Does This Matter?

Thus, God wants us to love others even when it’s hard. You might find it difficult at first, yet loving all people is what God commands of us. We are to love others just as God loves us. This means we have to be willing to forgive and move forward with life, even if it’s difficult.

Forgiving others in the way God wants us to will help release much pain and agony. If you are having difficulty forgiving or loving a particular person, ask God to help you in your struggles. God is faithful, and He will come to help.

For further reading:

Why Does Love Not Keep Any Records of Wrong?

Where Does Love Come From?

What Is Love According to the Bible?

How Do We Show Love to Toxic People?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Rawpixel

Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.