How to Show Love When Others Don’t Love You

The motivation has to come from somewhere else.

Who is the person you struggle to love? Let me ask it another way. How do we show love when we don’t feel like it? We reach out with the goal of love without expecting any love in return. That’s hard.

How to Show Love When Others Don’t Love YouHow to Show Love When Others Don’t Love You

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Some years ago I found myself at odds with another person after a conversation went south. This individual spoke severely to our daughter, and I confronted this person with the truth—but in anger, and I failed to speak truth in love.

Later, I tried to get together with this person and talk it through. I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness for how I had spoken. But others asked me to leave it alone for the time being. Although I tried to comply at first, I felt miserable keeping quiet.

I came to realize I needed to ask forgiveness, no matter what.

“As Far as It Depends on You”

The only way I felt I could honor both the Lord and those in authority came by writing a letter and asking for forgiveness. I never heard back from the individual, nor did I expect to or need to. But I needed to do my part. I needed to reach out.

I really believe even when we know someone will refuse to forgive us we need to ask anyway. Genuinely. We need to make it sincere and honest, done with such integrity that we can walk away knowing we have honored God.

Paul qualified his command appropriately:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. —Rom. 12:18

That verse means we do our part—and leave their part to God.

They may reject us. They may say nothing. They may offer a glib, obligatory, “I’ll try.” But we have to gauge the success of our efforts by our obedience to God and not by other people’s disobedience to him. That’s between them and him.

Reaching Out—Walking the One-Way Street

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Reaching Out—Walking the One-Way Street

How do we show love when we don’t feel like it? We reach out with the goal of love without expecting any love in return.

  • We mail a birthday card or send a text with the simple words: “Thinking of you on this special day.”
  • We give a hug and don’t react against their cold reluctance.
  • For husbands and wives, Peter also gives inspired counsel that love expresses itself daily by maintaining respectful, godly behavior, a gentle and quiet spirit, and living in an understanding way (see 1 Pet. 3:1–9).

Tough assignments, sure. But as Christians, they’re non-negotiable for us.

Where to Find the Motivation to Love

The motivation behind these acts of love? It must find its roots in our love for God. We cannot love others in order to receive love; that type of barter will always feel off-balance in our favor.

God has already loved us more than we could possibly imagine or repay. Our love has no expectation or goal except the glory of God, and therefore we show our love for God by loving others. Love remains our only outstanding debt (Rom. 13:8). Sometimes when facing these tough conversations, all we see is the mountain before us, not the entire pathway God provides over it. But it’s there. We should take the first step anyway.

“Is the LORD’s power limited?” the Lord asked Moses, “Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not” (Num. 11:23). We can still believe God without seeing or understanding his plan.

We cannot force what God has yet to change in another person. Sometimes God takes his time. After all, he has taken a long time with us, hasn’t he? We can choose to follow God regardless, to forgive from the heart, and to move forward in genuine joy. God’s sovereignty allows us all of that.

Jesus died to give us that freedom.

Question: What have you found to do to love when others aren’t loving? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • That’s not easy, Michelle. I get it. When I blow it, I try to go back and apologize. But it isn’t easy.

  • Beth Bradford Kincaid

    It took me a long time to get this because I let my emotions keep me captive.

    I learned to ask for forgiveness because it honored God. I learned to pray for God’s forgiveness in hurting that person.

    I am not always obedient in these situations because of my sinful nature of pride, but God has taught me that it’s not about me.

    • That’s wonderful, Beth. I too have taken a long time to get to the point of taking the higher view and the higher road in relationships. Even understanding more of God’s perspective doesn’t make it automatic, but God offers great insights we could get no other way. Thanks.