Summary: Jesus said to love everyone as-is. That can mean putting up with others’ faults or strange ways of doing things. It can mean focussing on the positive, not the negative. And i can mean replacing frustration with loving concern.

Summary: Jesus said to love everyone as-is. Focus on the positive. Replace frustration with loving concern.

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Love Other People As-Is

Keys to Healthy Relationships — Part 1

Doug Britton, MFT

Love is patient, love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Jesus said to love others as-is

It’s not always easy to love other people. Yet Jesus said this is one of God’s two most important commandments. Read what he said to some Jewish leaders:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus wasn’t just talking about loving your friends when he said to love your neighbor. He was saying to love everyone — including our enemies. Here’s what he said about this in the Sermon on the Mount:

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Related Bible study — Love your enemy

 

Be prepared for others to disappoint you

Be ready to be disappointed by people sometimes. That doesn’t mean you should always expect the worst moment by moment. But it does mean that in the back of your mind, you should realize that others will disappoint you now and again.

In a way, life is like the weather. Every morning, you look outside hoping for a blue sky, but if it’s raining, you are not entirely undone. Why? Because you know your hopes for a sunny day will be disappointed from time to time. Likewise in life, expect some rainy days, with an outside chance of a hurricane.

When you realize that disappointments are inevitable, it’s easier to love others as-is. You are less likely to respond by saying “I can’t believe you did that!” or “How could you be so rude?” Or, “If that’s the way you feel, I’m not speaking to you.” Instead, you expect that on occasion, others will say or do things that wound you.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

 

Discussion questions

1. How do you usually respond when you are disappointed with others?

2. How will expecting periodic disappointments help you respond differently?

 

“Bear with” others

The Bible says to “bear with” other people. That means putting up with other people’s faults, differences, and quirks. It means showing compassion, love, tolerance, gentleness, and patience. It also means not commenting every time someone does something wrong.

Love is patient, love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

 

Discussion questions

3. What does the Bible mean by “bear with each other” (Colossians 3:13)?

4. Describe a situation in which God helped you bear with someone.

5. Describe a situation in which you would like someone to bear with you.

 

Remember that you too are imperfect.

It’s easy to slip into a judgmental attitude when someone else does something you overcame in your own life. For example:

  • If you always tell the truth, you may fly into a rage when someone appears to be telling a lie.
  • If you pray one hour a day, and someone else only prays to find parking spots, you may not respect his or her spiritual life.
  • If you used to be late for church but now are usually on time, you may get upset when others are late.

One way to overcome a judgmental spirit is to confront your own sins. You may not have the same faults as someone else, but you have lots of different faults of your own. This realization can help you live with others’ shortcomings.

 

Discussion question

6. How can the knowledge that you are imperfect help you be patient with other people’s shortcomings?

Related Bible study — Understanding the power in humility

 

Replace frustration or anger with loving concern.

It’s easy to react with anger, bitterness, or sarcasm when other people’s words or actions disappoint you. Instead, ask God to help you respond with compassion. For example, if someone is late to a meeting or speaks loudly, don’t simply react with irritation. Try to understand the tension he or she may be feeling, and respond with wisdom and love.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Related book — Victory Over Grumpiness, Irritation, and Anger

 

Realize that the Holy Spirit convicts of sin.

You may think you need to point out people’s faults for their own good. Although gentle confrontation sometimes is appropriate (Galatians 6:1), don’t make a habit of it. The Holy Spirit speaks to each of us, convicting us of sin. If you continuously criticize other people, you may get in God’s way. When you criticize or argue, others are less likely to hear the Holy Spirit. You usually are much more effective if you pray for them instead of criticizing.

 

Discussion questions

7. Do you think you sometimes get in God’s way because you correct others a lot? If so, how do you think your responses get in God’s way?

8. What would be a better way to respond to others’ faults?

 

Look at positive things others say or do

If you look for the negative, you will find it. Likewise, if you look for the positive, you will find it. Focus on the good, lovely, and noble things about other people — his winsome grin, her gentle touch, his jokes, her organizational skills.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

Forgive other people

You grieve God if you hold on to a bitter, angry, or resentful attitude. His word repeatedly commands forgiveness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

Discussion questions

9. Do you easily forgive others? When is it hard for you to forgive?

10. What are times it is easy for you to forgive?

11. Read Matthew 6:14-15, 1 Corinthians 13:5, and Colossians 3:13. What is the key message in these passages? How will this message help you forgive?

 

Discuss problems courteously

From time to time it is loving and appropriate to voice a complaint, make a request, express concern for someone else’s well-being, or discuss problems. Be sure to speak with wisely and gently.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:6)

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

Related Bible study — Five steps to resolve conflicts

 

Confront serious sin

Loving others does not mean you should never confront serious sin. If someone physically abuses you, call the police, get out of the dangerous situation, and call your pastor. If your spouse commits adultery, is a drug addict, or engages in other types of serious sins, ask God to help you respond in love, yet also set limits and take action. Talk to your pastor, insist on counseling, or take other steps.

 

Memory verse

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

 

Make it personal

1. Should we love our friends and hate our enemies? Why or why not?

2. What types of people are most difficult for you to love? Why do you think this is true?

3. Does God want you to love these people? How can you develop the right attitude toward them?

4. Does loving someone as-is mean you think everything they are doing is okay?

5. Why is it helpful to expect to be disappointed by others sometimes?

6. If you see someone doing something wrong, is gentle confrontation sometimes appropriate? Why or why not?

7. If you see someone doing something wrong, should you always try to correct him or her? Why or why not?

8. Do you agree that remembering you are imperfect can help you love others as-is and “bear with” their faults? Why or why not?

 

Click here to read Part 2 of “Keys to Healthy Relationships” — Listen to Deeply Understand

Click here to read Part 3 of “Keys to Healthy Relationships” — Communicate with Respect and Love

Living by Grace

Resting secure in God's grace, love, and mercy

Talking with Respect and Love

Learning healthy listening and communication skills

Encouraging Your Spouse

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Healing Life's Hurts

Bible-based steps to overcoming hurt feelings

In the Bookstore

Living by Grace

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Understanding God’s grace

Talking with Respect and Love

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Secrets to healthy communication

Encouraging Your Spouse

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Encourage and support your mate

Healing Life’s Hurts

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Escape hurt feelings

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Copyright © 2017 Doug Britton. (Permission granted to print for personal use.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible verses are from the 1984 New International Version.

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