Learning to get along with others is one of the toughest parts of growing up. My daughters are both struggling with this right now. It’s hard to let someone else have their way. It’s hard to make a compromise with another person. It’s hard to love people who are mean to you.
A common complaint around here is “But they were mean to me first.” It’s human nature to want to get our own way. It’s natural to want to ignore people who are mean to us. Revenge is often the first thing that comes to a child’s mind when they have been wronged.
But God teaches a different story. He commands us to love everyone. He even says we have to love our enemies. What? Even as adults, we have a tough time with that command. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 that He’s shaking things up. He’s doing away with the Old Testament law that says “an eye for an eye” and replacing it with love: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus didn’t say love your friends. He didn’t say love the people you like. He didn’t say love people who are nice to you. He said love one another. In Matthew 5:44, He tells us to even love our enemies.
That’s some tough stuff. We fail miserably at that as adults. How an we expect our kids to do it? It seems like an impossible command. That’s where God comes in. We can’t love our enemies on our own. We can’t love our friends all the time on our own. We have to have help. Only God’s love is enough to cover over the wounds of an enemy so that we can love them.
When your kids are struggling to love someone, help them ask for help. Encourage them to talk to God any time mean thoughts about that person come to mind. Encourage them to let God fill them up with love so that they have enough love to cover over the hurts the other person has caused. Remind them that we don’t have to love everyone out of our own strength. We simply have to let God love others through us. When our kids know they don’t have to love everyone on their own, it becomes a whole lot easier to love those unlovable people in their lives.
Yes, God does say we have to love everyone. Lucky for us, we don’t have to do it alone.