|Loving the Unlovable
There are often bound to us, in the closest intimacy of social or family ties, natures hard and ungenial, with whom sympathy is impossible, and whose daily presence necessitates a constant conflict with an adverse influence. There are, too, enemies--open or secret--whose enmity we may feel yet cannot define. Our Lord, going before us in this hard way, showed us how we should walk.
It will be appropriate to...ask ourselves, Is there any false friend or covert enemy whom we must learn to tolerate, to forbear with, to pity and forgive? Can we in silent offices of love wash their feet as our Master washed the feet of Judas? And, if we have no real enemies, are there any bound to us in the relations of life whose habits and ways are annoying and distasteful to us? Can we bear with them in love? Can we avoid harsh judgments, and harsh speech, and the making known to others our annoyance? The examination will probably teach us to feel the infinite distance between us and our divine Ideal, and change censoriousness of others into prayer for ourselves.
"I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).
Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes. --Antisthenes
The wise learn many things from their enemies. --Aristophanes (450-385 BC)
Know this: though love is weak and hate is strong, Yet hate is short, and love is very long.
Love means to love what is unlovable or it is no love at all. --G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
It is easier to love humanity than to love your neighbour. --Eric Hoffer
There are two marks, both of which are one and the same thing, that manifest the difference between spiritual and human love: Human love cannot tolerate the dissolution of a fellowship that has become false for the sake of genuine fellowship, and human love cannot love an enemy, that is, one who seriously and stubbornly resists it. Both spring from the same source: human love is by its very nature desire -- desire for human community. So long as it can satisfy this desire in some way, it will not give it up, even for the sake of truth, even for the sake of genuine love for others. But where it can no longer expect its desire to be fulfilled, there it stops short -- namely, in the face of an enemy. There it turns into hatred, contempt, and calumny.
Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle again.
--Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. --C S Lewis, from The Problem of Pain
One ought to love one's neighbour with a love as chaste as that of a bridegroom for his bride. In this case all faults are concealed and covered over and only the virtues are seen.
--Luther's Tabletalk No. 217
True love isn't so much a dreamy feeling that you have as it is an enduring commitment to give sacrificially - even, or perhaps especially, when you don't feel like it.
--William R. Mattox, Jr.
Some of us have not much time to lose [to begin loving]. Remember, once more, that this is a matter of life and death. I cannot help speaking urgently, for myself, for yourselves. "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." That is to say, it is the deliberate verdict of the Lord Jesus that it is better not to have lived than not to love. --Henry Drummond (1851-1897), "The Greatest Thing in the World"