I was processing the idea that you have to love everyone, but you don’t have to like them. This is true. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that the second greatest COMMANDMENT was that you love your neighbor as yourself. You are required to choose the highest good for all people at all times, but He never said anything about liking people. This is true. Though, I think it’s an immature excuse for being apathetically hateful or at least for being lazy in our general relationships.
The reality of life is that it is hard to like some people. I will say that we do not have to be in relationship with everyone. If that were so they would not be relationships. Relationships by their very nature are conditional. What does this mean practically? Well, you are not required to be close friends with everyone. You are actually allowed to choose your friends and spouse. Some people are bad choices because of the way they are currently living. Some people will never naturally come into our lives, and we shouldn’t be expected to meet everyone on the edges of our circle of influence.
BUT if you are regularly connected with someone you don’t like in your circles of influence, I think that part of loving that person is to relate with them under the same principles of relationships that we apply to our friends, love interest or partner. It is unloving to look at that person and declare to ourselves that we have to love them but not like them. Think about the person in your life? When you say that you don’t have to like them, is that any different from hate? When you hate someone you avoid them. You get annoyed when you see them. You laugh at them not when they tell jokes but when they once again make that noise or say that word again, and your eyes roll. This is what our declared dislike looks like too.
So the end of it all is this:
If you are in relationship with someone, you need to try to like them.
It doesn’t matter what the relationship is. I have a person in mind that God has been convicting me over. I work with her in a side job I have. I plan to keep you updated on her and my interactions with her. Hold me accountable, and take the challenge that I will be taking. I am committing right now to make efforts to like her.
How do we do this?
1. Decide that you want to like them.
This may be the hardest step. It requires pushing past your emotions. It certainly will require humbling yourself and maybe being looked down upon as you step into a niceness toward them in front of your peers who also dislike the person.
2. Stop all negative behaviors toward them.
Decide now to quit rolling your eyes when they talk or making a sound of disgust when they come near. Quit being short with them in conversation especially if they took the effort to initiate a conversation. Don’t participate in gossip or complaining about them. Don’t laugh at other’s negative comments about them.
3. Commit to love them.
This is required of all humans by God and by reality, but when you actually decide to love someone you will do a better job at it. Your conscience will show you whether you have been loving them or not.
4. Ask God to help you do something nice for them.
Here is the thing in my life that has actually worked in changing my bad relationships into good ones. Several years ago I did not like a guy that I was around Monday through Friday. We seemed to fight about everything. He would so often make an absolute statement that I found completely wrong (even morally at times). I did not liking being near him, but I realized that I was in the wrong in this. I asked God to help me like him, and God told me to give him a dollar. I was very poor. :) I took one of my very few dollars, walked to his mail box and placed it inside. He never knew it was me. I don’t even know if he got it. What I do know is that my heart toward him changed. I began to see why he was valuable, and we became friends.