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Love the Unlovable
By: Aurelio M. Almeda, III
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Matthew 5:38-48
Theme: Love

There was a story about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco.
       "Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me".
       "Sure." They replied. We'd love to meet him".
       "There's something you should know, he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us.'
       I'm sorry to hear that, Son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live."
       No, mom and dad, I want him to live with us."
       "Son, you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden to us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come on home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own."
       At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide.
       The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know - their son had only one arm and one leg.

The parents in the story are not unlike many of us. We find it easy to love those who are lovable. Those are good and well dressed or good looking. Fun to have around, but we don't like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren't as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are.

Thankfully God doesn't treat us that way. He loves us in spite of who and what we are or regardless of how messed up we are.

It is very valuable to know how to love the unlovable. Why is it valuable to know how to love the unlovable? By the following ways we will know how to love the unlovable. But before this let us first take a peek at the background of this book.

The author of this book (Matthew) is a former tax collector and became one of Jesus' disciples, he is Matthew.

His purpose of writing this is to present or to prove that Jesus is the messiah, the eternal king. And this book was originally addressed to the Jews.

The scripture that we have read today is addressed to the disciples by Jesus.

Here are the ways to love the unlovable;

I. LOVING THEM WITH CARE AND ATTENTION (VV. 38-42)

Loving someone is not a feeling, it's a decision. When you decide to love, that's when the feeling comes. There are different kinds of love, and Philia, Eros, agape are the common. Philia means brotherly love, Eros - animal love, lust or sexual love and Agape is the Godly, unconditional and selfless love.

A. Do not resist an evil person. (V.38-39)

Jesus said to his disciples in verses 38-39a; "You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person." This can be seen in exodus 21:23-24. To take life for life… But Jesus said "do not resist an evil person. Resist is a word that comes from the word Anthistemi, meaning to set against, or to oppose. Verse 39b, "…If someone strikes you on the right cheek, then turn to him the other also". Evil person means doing unfavorable things or in Greek it is called Poneros - wicked, malicious, and evil in moral or spiritual sense. But Jesus said do not resist, In other words, do not take revenge If someone strikes or do bad things to you, but repay only what is good. How can we repay good to the evil person? - By giving.

B. Give what you have (vv. 40-41)

Verse 40; "if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well". A tunic is a basic garment, a shirt. A cloak is a garment or a coat or sometimes that would cover or wrap around the body like a blanket.

This verse is translated in KJV as; and if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke. The word sue is from the original word KRINO (kree'-no) condemn, punish. In other words if someone will condemn us and take whatever we have, then give more than what he takes. And in verse 41 "if someone forces you to go one mile go with him two miles". This doesn't mean literally, going two miles on your feet. It means doing everything more than a person wants us to do. We are willing to do more to show our love. (Pasobrahe)

C. Give to the one who asks (v.42)

Verse 42; "give to the one who asks you". Give is from the original word METADIDOMI meaning to give a share, to impart with. So if a person will ask, especially those we hated most, we should give. Let us continue; "and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from". Give and do not ignore the person if he asks. Love motivates us to give. Love is giving and more it's forgiving. Even if the person doesn't ask, still give and forgive. When we give something, we are imparting the blessing we have from God. If we are willing to give those who already have and didn't ask, how much more to those who ask and do not have?

It's better to give than to receive. It's better for us to give love than we need it and wants to be loved.

There was a wealthy man who had two sons. This man is a caring and a loving father. One time his younger son asks for his share or inheritance. Being an understanding father he gave what his son wanted. Then, his son took off and spent his share to whatever he wanted and enjoyed it in his own pleasures. After squandering what he had, his entire share was consumed and nothing was left even for his food. He then decided to look for a job to support himself. Finally he was hired and provided a noble job which is to feed pigs in a piggery. Hunger came to his senses and because there was no food he ate with the pigs in the pod. He realizes how lucky are the servants of his father who are well feed and here he was, starving to death. He then acknowledges his sin and decided to go home and ask for forgiveness.

While he was still far, his compassionate father saw him and ran to him embracing and kissing him with joy. His father forgave him and gave him what he needed and still treated him as a son. The older son complained and said; "why did you give attention to my brother after he squandered your property. I'm doing well here, I've been a good son and you didn't bother to give even a goat and you killed a fattened calf for him". His father replied; "my son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we have to celebrate because your brother was lost and now he's found. You are full of love, your brother needs more love than you. This story is very common to us, it is about the "prodigal son".

As followers of Christ let us prodigally spend our love more to those who need it. Meaning we should spend love the most to those people who are unlovable. Like what our Lord did to us, we are reconciled to the father through him. In spite of all our imperfections we are loved by our father in heaven and for that we should love one another.

II. LOVING THEM WITH UNDERSTANDING AND FORGIVENESS (VV.43-48)

There's a big difference between love and like. Sometimes when we like a person and if we're happy being with him, we misinterpret our feelings. Being happy with the person doesn't mean you are in love. Happiness is unconditional and a true love is unconditional.

Unconditional doesn't mean Love is blind because unconditional or Godly love is not blind. It sees the need; God knows and saw our need.

Some said; "The more you hate the more you love" and that's not true! Rather "The more you love the less you hate".

A. PRAY AND BLESS THEM (VV. 43-45)

In verse 43 Jesus continued; 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". Enemy is from the original word ECHTHOS, it means hated or hateful. We sometimes hate people who have done unfavorable things to us and consider them as enemies. Neighbor here means PLESION (play-see'-on) close by or fellow (as man, countryman, Christian or friend). So those people we hate and considered as enemies are also our neighbor. Jesus said, love them and pray for them… it means love and bless those who persecute you. The KJV translates this as "bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you."

We sometimes hate people who have done unfavorable things to us and consider them as enemies, but Jesus doesn't want us to hate them but bless them instead. Bless comes form the word EULOGEO (Yoo-log-eh'-o) to invoke blessing upon a person. We can always do that, amen? Do we consider those people we hate as enemies? Yes sometimes, but we can bless them and pray that they may change, but the most that we should ask in prayer is a help from God to change our attitude towards them.

In verse 45; "that you may be sons of your father in heaven" in other words that it may prove that we are the children of our father in heaven or we are like him, showing His love to everyone. How did he show His love?

B. Show your love to them like our father did to us (V. 45b)

Verse 45b; "he causes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous." God showed his love to his creation through his creation. We are his creation and we should release the love we have from God, especially to the unbelievers because God still give chance to them. They are the ones that need love than us. It's hard for us to love them but the Lord loves them. That's why we here are today being saved not by service but for service. To serve those people who do not know Christ. Jesus wants us to understand that the Father loves us all and that we should love each other. We are accountable to each other.

In another way how did God show his love to all of us or to the world? By giving his Son to give light and to shine for the entire world to see and pour out his blood to each of us like rain. We Christians are admonished to hate sin and love the sinners.

C. There's a great joy and victory in loving the unlovable (VV.46-47)

In verse 46-47 Jesus asks; "what reward will you get if you only love those who love you? Even tax collectors do that, and if you greet only those who are near to your heart, how about to others? Pagans also do that".

Tax collectors, traditionally known as "Publicans" have bad reputation and were hated and considered traitors because they worked for Rome and often demanded unreasonable payments. But they also love those who love them. Well, it's easy to love those who love us in return, but what can we get from that?

In loving the enemies or the unlovable, there will be joy and great victory in our hearts. Why? Because Godly love brings joy, peace and the rest of the fruit of the spirit will follow. The apostle Paul said in 1Cor. 13 that we may all have different kinds of gifts but the greatest of all is love. Can we be kind if we don't have love? Can we do good without love? Maybe, but that's not the standard of God's love. Love motivates us to give and to forgive. And that is the Love of God. His love moves in mysterious ways.

We all know about the 3 kinds of love which are the philia, eros, agape etc. If we will let the agape reign in our hearts, our hearts will be burning with joy, and that would be called in Pilipino lumalagove-love.

D. Be perfect in love (vv.48)

In verse 48; "be perfect therefore as your heavenly father is perfect." Does this mean we should do everything or live perfectly? No! Because Jesus knows our human limits and imperfections, that's the reason why he came here and carried all our imperfections and be nailed for it. What he wants us to understand, is to be perfect in love because our Father's love is perfect. He loves us equally, there is no favoritism and more, there is no discrimination in His love, because God is Love and he is not unfair. We can't be perfect in all we do but we can be perfect in love.

I have read in the book Joyfully Single by Dr. Harold Sala that he had a friend whose name is William who was a little boy during world war II, was barely old enough to remember everything what had happen to his family. His father was seized by the Japanese, sent him to prison and accused his mother of being a spy. But his mother was a missionary who had come to china and married a Chinese businessman. Because of their Christian faith, he, his mother along with his siblings, were placed under house arrest and for many years were virtual prisoners with just small amount of rations year after year, barely above starvation subsistence.

Deep in Williams's heart, he vowed that if there's a last thing he'll do is to seek out the Japanese who imprisoned his father and take his revenge. Then as he grew older he came to realize that revenge is not really in keeping with the teaching of Christ. He finally gave up the idea of taking a life, but the bitterness was still in his heart. He knew the name and the address of that Japanese. "The least I can do" he reasoned, "is to go to his place of employment and expose his war crimes and embarrass him, paying him back for the suffering and humiliation he caused my family".

Then his long awaited payday finally came. Immediately prior to Deng Hsiao-ping's trip to the United States, a number of Chinese were allowed to leave the mainland as a good-will gesture. William was one of them. He first went to Japan where he determined to find the man who had caused his family to suffer.

He first stop was in Tokyo and a friend met him at the airport and took him to his friend's home. And during the next few days, he picked up a book that changed his rendezvous with revenge. It had been written by a Dutch woman who was Corrie ten Boom, who was put in a concentration camp. (And this was during Adolph Hitler's time.) She related how God had eventually delivered her and then she returned to Germany with the message that forgiveness is the only answer to bitterness and revenge.

Corrie told how after speaking to a group, she had been confronted by one of the SS guards from the very prison where she had faced death hour by hour. The guard thrust forth his hand, saying he too had become a believer and that God had forgiven him. "Forgive me fraulein" said the guard with his hand outstretched.

Williams's heart was touched of what he read. Then God began to reprove him for the attitude which he knew was wrong, and the bitterness and hatred began to subside. His mission of revenge was forsaken.

As being forgiven and saved we should also forgive and love those we find very hard to love and we will no longer consider them as enemies but as brothers or sisters in Christ. Being a Christian is not an assurance that our imperfections are erased, so we need also to understand each other because all of us have imperfections. Let us be optimistic rather than be a pessimistic. If we will be pessimistic we will be weary and lonely and end up saying "life is meaningless" because we live in this imperfect world. But if we will see what is good and do what is good there will be joy in our hearts.

Conclusion

Therefore life is all about relationship. The whole bible tells us about relationship to God and to others. Our relationship to Him should not be based on our emotions. If decide to follow him, we should also decide to love those whom he loves. The apostle John said; If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20)

In building up relationships, we should throw away all baggages within our hearts, which are; bitterness and hatred. Max Lucado said; "Hatred never makes sense. We have been forgiven so much. How could we not forgive others? In order to Love as God loves we must first receive God's love. When we want someone to pay for what has been done to us, remember-someone already did".

Let us replace this unnecessary baggage that we don't need in this Christian life with LOVE. God's love.

Loving the unlovable, and at the same time loving the available.

Recapitulation

The ways of loving the unlovable are;

I. LOVING THEM WITH CARE AND ATTENTION
II. LOVING THEM WITH UNDERSTANDING AND FORGIVENESS

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