“How do I love someone who is wrong?”
This is a question I get asked quite often. It comes in various forms due to circumstances, but it is one that I believe all of us struggle with. Undoubtedly, if you live in a fallen world, corrupted by sin, you will in some way, shape or form be a victim or suffer the consequence of other people’s sin. Sin happens and all of us have been hurt by someone.
Before I even begin with addressing the question, I do want to say that the hurt that you have experienced or are experiencing now needs to be validated. Often times, we try to short-circuit the emotion of hurt because we want to immediately fix the problem or even worse, minimize the feelings to a level of non-importance. Neither of those options is healthy. In fact, they are a detriment to recovery.
God validates your feelings. The Psalms are rife with the testimony of emotional pain, feelings of betrayal, abandonment etc. In Psalm 42:3 when the Psalmist says “my tears have been my food day and night”, he is responding to the feeling of desertion, betrayal and how better days have long been gone. Does that describe a situation that you are experiencing? If it does, God knows exactly what you are going through.
Those feelings are also confirmed in the person of Christ. It was not enough for God to simply know that those emotions exist because He created them, rather He stepped into His own creation and experienced it first-hand. That is precisely why Jesus Christ, the God-man, is such a sympathetic Savior. He experienced personally the result of other people’s sin by Him being rejected by His own people, reviled and eventually murdered on a Roman cross.
Yet Christ never stopped loving people who were in the wrong.
Loving people who are wrong is what God does every single day. God as Creator has fashioned this world according to His good will and pleasure. In doing so, He has the right to do things His way which includes giving rules to follow. God expects His creatures to obey, however, because of sin brought into the world through Adam, we have put our hand in God’s face and said “no thanks”.
Now think of all the generations that agreed and agree now with Adam’s choice in the Garden to disobey God? Yet, God didn’t immediately smite Adam nor the subsequent generations of humanity after that. Sure, God did flood the world in judgment and will judge the world again with fire but now as I look out my office window and see the sun shining on the lawn, I see God loving a creation that has wronged and offended Him personally.
God sustains a world that is filled with individuals that are in rebellion to Him (Col. 1:17, Heb. 1:3) and He does it because He is love (1 Jn. 4:8). However, the greatest demonstration is that God gave His Only Son as the only way for us as rebels to find peace with Him (Jn. 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18). Nothing has or ever will surpass that expression of love. It is as the hymn talks about “love so amazing so divine”.
When we love the people, who have wronged us we are walking in the very footsteps of God and displaying His character.
How we love them is first, we do not wish them harm. As difficult as it is, because it goes against our innate sense of justice, retribution or revenge should never be an option. God is big enough to right your wrongs and He is sure to do it for He says, “vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Rom. 12:19). All wrongdoings in the past, present and future are either going to be made right by the cross or will be dealt with in the fury of God’s righteous judgment at the close of the age.
Secondly, we pray for those who have hurt us. Like Christ prayed “Father, forgive them” in Luke 23:34, we too should pray for our enemies. This not only gets us to vocalize our hurt to our Father but also gets us out of the mental cycle of rehashing the circumstance and allows us to lay it at the feet of God, who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
Pray to God and He will meet you in your hurt to love the unlovable.