Updated: Aug 18, 2022
I recently posted a social media status that read: Learn to help someone you don’t like. For the most part, the feedback was positive (outside of one person who simply exclaimed “No!”). Most of the replies concurred. But one person asked, “But why?” I simply responded, “Why not?” Upon further reflection, though, the objector makes a relevant point.
Why should a believer learn to help someone who they don’t like? Obviously, getting into the intricacies of why a believer does not like a certain person is for another article. Conflict, pain, history, money, love are the usual suspects when it comes to holding personal acrimony against someone else.
Here’s the pivot: A lot of how we deal with those who don’t like us has much to do with the way in which we deal with ourselves. A healthy and biblical self-love is a type of love that treats others with respect and seeks their well-being – regardless of the history. It’s the moral exemplar.
Here are three (among many) reasons why you should help someone you don’t like.
One: It’s biblical.
If we profess to be followers of Christ, then we must follow the biblical precept. The Holy Bible majors in how we treat our neighbor, with the ultimate maxim being “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31).
The writers of the Bible certainly were aware of the folly of tit for tat in their day, being surrounded by a culture that relished the art of vengeance. Vengeance, believers are instructed, belongs to the Lord. Believers are to operate by a different metric when it comes to how we deal with our haters.
When the Old Testament speaks of ‘justice’, it is in terms of “acquittal, deliverance and a saving help”. It is also a type of vindication. The Hebrew mindset was keen on this subject, as demonstrated by the command in Psalms 37 (the archetype psalm for justice) when dealing with someone who has wronged us:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Two: It's a Growth versus Fixed Mindset
Christianity is an upside down religion. Christianity is a growth religion. Christ never commanded us to do what everyone else is doing. Instead, Jesus Christ admonished the opposite. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ commands that we love our enemies; pray for those who do evil against us. Why? Not just for the benefit of the persecutor, but also because in doing so, we promote our own spiritual growth. Our spiritual growth can become static (indeed toxic) by harboring grudges against those who have grudges against us.
“…not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Three: It's Win-Win-Win
In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ commands that we love our enemies; pray for those who do evil against us. Why? Not just for the benefit of the persecutor, but also because in doing so, we promote our own spiritual growth. Our spiritual growth can become static (indeed toxic) by harboring grudges against those who have grudges against us.
By reaching out and embracing someone whom you know does not like you is a win-win for both parties. You are relieved of any stress and anxiety associated with the experience, and you also “reap coals of burning fire” upon the consciousness of that individual (Romans 12:20). This means that by reaching out in love, you cause someone to feel remorse by returning good for evil (Prov. 25:22). That person may subsequently repent of their behavior and the kingdom of God is made stronger!
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
In the end, the two questions that really matter are: What’s good for the kingdom? What’s good for my spiritual, mental and even my physical health? Paul summed it best:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
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