Q: I know Jesus said we ought to love people, but how do you love someone who’s really hard to get along with? My aunt is like this, always criticizing everyone and in general just being disagreeable. We dread it when she comes to visit. — M.G.
A: You’re right, I’m afraid; some people are simply hard to like. Sometimes, of course, we are at fault — and if so, we need to be honest about it and try to change our attitude.
But unfortunately some people seem to take almost a perverse delight in criticizing others or antagonizing those around them. Sometimes it’s because of pride; they try to build themselves up by tearing others down. Sometimes it’s because of anger, or jealousy, or some other hidden emotion that controls them. But whatever the reason, it creates conflict and usually makes them isolated and unhappy. The Bible says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict” (Proverbs 16:28).
You may find it hard to like your aunt, but you can still love her! You see, when we truly love someone, we are concerned about them and want to do everything we can to help them. This is the kind of love God has for us (in spite of our sin and rebellion) — and it’s the kind of love he wants us to have for others. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Ask God to help you see your aunt the same way he sees her — as someone who is admittedly imperfect and difficult, but also as someone he still loves. Then pray for her, that she may come to realize how much God loves her, and open her heart and life to Christ’s transforming power. You can’t change her, — but God can.
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.