How You Can Love Someone Who Doesn’t Deserve It
We all know we’re supposed to love one another. But how do you love someone when they don’t love you back, repeatedly manipulate or abuse you, consistently underperform, constantly put pressure on you, don’t respect boundaries, take advantage of your kindness, are negative and cranky, or repeatedly let you down? We all have people like that—that’s for sure!
Join Patrick Morley and learn, or be reminded of, Jesus’ core teaching about loving people—especially when they don’t deserve it, why it matters, how you can rehabilitate broken relationships, and how to manage relationships that cannot at this time be repaired.
Verses referenced in this lesson:
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The CORE TEACHINGS of JESUS
How You Can Love Someone
Who Doesn’t Deserve It
Hello men. Welcome to the Man in the Mirror Bible study. For those of you who are online, I’m Pat Morley. Today, we are continuing the series, The Core Teachings of Jesus. The message today is titled, ‘How can you love someone who doesn’t deserve it?‘ And I immediately thought about the dealership where we bought our travel trailer. Seriously, yeah. I had to take it in for some service two weeks ago, it’s still there. And when I was calling to make the appointment, I prayed. “Lord, would you let me talk to someone today who is at least willing to pretend that they care.”
As it turns out, they must’ve had a regime change over there because they’ve done a great job. So, but it does bring up the issue that there are other matters, other people who don’t seem to deserve love for very serious reasons. You might have a problem loving someone because they are abusive verbally. It could be physically, verbally, or they constantly try to manipulate you. Maybe they’re an addict of some kind, or maybe you love someone and they just don’t love you back. Or perhaps it is somebody in your family, maybe it is a parent, maybe it’s a father wound. Maybe there’s a broken relationship there and you just find it difficult to love that family member, because you just don’t feel like they deserve it because of the way that they have treated you. Or maybe it’s a child. Peter Ustinov has said very well that parents are the bones upon which children sharpen their teeth.
And then there is in Christendom and the body of Christ, there is this broader group of people, let’s just call them cooks, cranks, and crooks. I mean, we welcome them all, and so in the body of Christ, we have all kinds of people who just don’t seem to have good emotional intelligence or whatever it is. And they disrespect boundaries, they don’t understand the concept of boundaries. So there are all kinds of these people that we have in our lives, maybe it’s somebody that keeps putting pressure on you to do something for them. Or maybe it’s somebody that is a repetitive under-performer. They just, for whatever reason, don’t seem to care. They don’t get it done, and you find it difficult to love them. You don’t feel like they deserve your love. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
We’re looking at the arc of the core teachings of Jesus. You may recall if you were here, the question that I started this series with is, what is it that is holding men back from taking action? And we looked at the harvest in Jesus, looks at the people and he has compassion on them because they are harassed and they are helpless like sheep without a shepherd. And we talked about how can we see people the way that Jesus sees them so that we can have an ache for the harvest too. So now in these core teachings, Jesus came to seek and to save the loss in these core teachings, we’re trying to figure out, “Okay, how is it that we can get this gospel under our skin so that we can see people the way that Jesus sees them.” And so now we come to this text, we’re looking at today, which is John chapter 13, verse 34 and 5 if you want to turn there.
CUT THE BIBLE AND IT BLEEDS NEIGHBOR LOVE
First up, cut the Bible and it bleeds neighbor love. In John chapter 13, verse 34, Jesus is speaking. The scene is he’s just washed the feet of the disciples in the upper room. And he says to them, “A new suggestion, I give you.” You know man, at some point, the eye just needs to take a knee To Jesus. At some point, if you’re a seeker, you’re perhaps not ready for that yet. But if you are a disciple, you shouldn’t mind having Jesus tell you what to do. There’s a command structure in your job. And if somebody works for me or I work for somebody, and I repeatedly disobey the commands, the rules, then that means that I am in rebellion against the authority. Jesus is a king and I am his servant. So it’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. And that should not, being that Jesus makes a command of you, it should not offend you in any way that Jesus has commands. Okay?
Now, if you’re a seeker, and Jesus is not your savior and Lord yet, then you’re here and you can question this that’s good. But if you’re on the other side of that, bow the knee. A new command I give you, like one another. So it’s interesting, this word love one another here is actually is the word agape. We have learned in previous lessons if you’ve been here, that the father loves us the same way that the father loves Jesus with agape love. And that Jesus loves us the same way the father loved him with agape love. And he is saying here, for us now to take that same agape with which the father and the son has loved us, and now we are to agape others. We’re to love God with the same love that we have received. A new command I give you love one another as I have loved you so you also must love one another.
Now we learned something from this text that we would otherwise not know. There’s something in this text that is unique in all of the Bible. And by the way, if you’re ever reading a Bible text and that Bible text says something that you will not learn anywhere else in the world, then that is the main reason that that Bible text is in there. And so this is the main reason this text is in here. So what’s new? What’s new about this command, it’s as I have loved you so you must also love one another. So the old Testament gives us this in Leviticus and so forth, gives us this command to love one another. Jesus says, “A new command I give you as I have loved you.” That’s the way I want you to love other people. So how is it then that Jesus has loved us? Here it is. Here it is. Here it is. Jesus has loved you even when you didn’t deserve it. That’s the gospel.
Jesus has loved us, even when we didn’t deserve it. So when Jesus says, “As I have loved you so much, you must also love one another,” he means, even though they don’t deserve it. You’re supposed to love them because that’s how I have loved you. It’s because I have this, Jesus says, I, he stole this elsewhere, “I have this ache for the harvest. I look at people, I have compassion on them. Am I saddened that they’re sinful? Yes, but I have compassion on them because they are harassed And helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” And so when Jesus says, “As I have loved you, so you must also love one another,” it’s even though they don’t deserve it, because you know that you didn’t deserve it. Hey, I just had this thought on the drive over here this morning. If we really knew everything about each other, if I really knew everything about you, and you really knew everything about me, this group would immediately disband.
But Jesus says, “As I have loved you, even though you don’t deserve it, so you must also love one another.” And because we have an ache for the harvest, we love people even when they don’t deserve it. And thirdly, Jesus loves us sacrificially. He made a sacrifice. The shepherd laid down his life for the sheep. Very rarely will anyone die for a good man, though, for a good man, someone may possibly dare die, but God demonstrates his love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So Jesus goes on in John chapter 15, and he says that we should lay down our lives for our brothers if you love me. He says, “If you love me, lay down your life for your brothers.” There is a sacrificial nature to this law. There are some related texts, we’re not going to dive deep into them. You can take a picture of this if you want to. But Matthew 7:12, Galatians 5:14, and Romans 13:8-10, they all kind of say the same basic thing. Roman 7:12, “In everything you do, do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”
The golden rule, this sums up the law and the prophets, Galatians 5:14, “If you find that you’re keeping this one command, you will find that you’re keeping all the others.” That’s what it says in Romans 13:8-10, “Love your neighbor.” And then the story of the good Samaritan, an example of how you do neighbor love. Matthew 5:43 and 44 talks about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. In other words, loving people who don’t deserve it, right? And 1st Peter 4:8, “Above all,” always when you see these words ‘above all’ it’s tied to an end, right? “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” And then 1st John 4:20, the Bible actually has an estoppel clause. It says that if you do not love your brother or your sister, who you can see, you are estopped from claiming that you love God.
In other words, the Bible specifically says, “You cannot say that you are a God lover, if you are not also a people lover,” all right? And then 1st Corinthians 13:13, “These three remain, faith, hope, love, the greatest of these is love.” So the Bible, cut The Bible and it bleeds neighbor love. It believes neighbor love. So, what of it? Well, let’s look next at this Big Idea and see if we can’t make sense of this. Here’s what Jesus is wanting us to take away from these two verses and we’re getting ready to do the second verse. “Your witness as a disciple hinges on loving people who don’t deserve it.” Your witness as a disciple, it hinges on loving people who don’t deserve it. Who deserves to be loved by God? Well, if I’m reading my Bible correctly, nobody deserves to be loved, but he loves us because he made us, and Jesus has died for our sins.
PROOF OF CONCEPT
And so I want to give you now the proof of concept for that. Okay. We read verse 34, then now in verse 35, okay. “By this, all men will know you are my disciples if you perfect your theology.” I come from a theological tradition where truth is very important because truth in the past has been abused and so it’s almost an overreaction putting the truth on a very high pedestal where it should be, but without lowering the height of where the truth is, sometimes we put that over neighbor love. But Jesus teaches us this. People are going to judge the authenticity, the reality, the voracity, and the desirability of Christianity based on how we treat each other. Based on love. It’s proof of concept for Christianity, loving each other is proof of concept.
People look at faith, and they’re looking for proof of concept that Christianity is real, this is it. All men will know that you are my disciples, or all people will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. So King David, I was reading about him this week and through the Bathsheba and the Uriah. So the story, you know the story, I guess all of you probably know the story or parts of the story, but I have to tell you that as I was reading a story, I just found myself getting angrier and angrier at David and despising him. By the time I was faced with the story, I was despising King David. I mean, think about it, he’s a sexual predator, he seduces and has an adulterous relationship with another man’s wife, and then the deviousness of that cat, he actually brings Uriah, her husband, back from the front lines of the war and tries to get him to go to sleep with her to cover up his sin. Uriah is the righteous one, he wouldn’t even do that, he slept at the door of the king or wherever.
He wouldn’t even go home. And finally, David, then he really got evil and he arranges for the woman’s husband to be killed. And he was killed, and several others were killed too. And I was thinking just how hard it was for me. Here’s a guy who doesn’t deserve for me to love them. I mean, really. He does not deserve for me to love him. And then the Lord spoke to my heart and he said this. He said, “If you withhold or withdraw love, then you’re putting the relationship on the basis of performance.” If you withhold or withdraw love, then you’re putting that relationship on the basis of performance. In other words, that person, it’s your child, it’s your parent, it’s your wife, it’s your uncle, it’s your cousin, it’s your coworker, if you withdraw your love from them, or you withhold your love from them, then what you’re doing is you’re saying that that relationship is based on their performance, it is not based on love.
Big Idea today. Your witness as a disciple hinges on loving people who don’t deserve it. Okay, David, I love you. I love you.
LOVE REHAB CLINIC
And then finally love rehab clinic. Still a little love rehab clinic here. So we need to talk about what do you do when you are not able to restore a relationship. Because as much as you might be willing to love someone who doesn’t deserve it, that doesn’t mean that that person stops abusing you. That doesn’t mean that that person stops manipulating you. That doesn’t mean that that person reciprocates with love. And so sometimes there have to be boundaries. We see boundaries in the Bible. Jesus gives a pathway to reconciliation, or to how to manage an unreconciled relationship in Matthew 18, where you can look that up sometime. But you many of you know the story, if someone sins against you, you go to that person, confront them. If they repent, then you won back a brother. If they don’t, take a witness and go see them. If they repent you won a brother or sister.
And then finally, if that doesn’t work, then you’re supposed to go to the body. And if that doesn’t work, then you’re supposed to basically put that person out of fellowship until they come to repentance. So there are boundaries, there are boundaries, and there is a process of relationships. And you know, if somebody is violating the process of relationships with you, then there is recourse, there is accountability in the Bible. But what about then, how do you restore a broken relationship? How do you restore a broken relationship? Well, overarching this, you do all of this, you do all of this as a decision that you make by faith, through the power of the holy spirit. You do all of this as a decision that you make by faith, through the power of the holy spirit. The holy spirit is your helper, he is your intercessor, he’s interceding right now for you with groans so deep, that words cannot express. And he is your power. He is your helper, your intercessor, and your power.
So the first fruit of having the holy spirit is what? Anyone? It’s love. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and so on. Love is the very fruit, I told you the Bible bleeds neighbor love. And so when we are filled with the holy spirit, and walking in the power of the holy spirit, we have the power to love people who don’t deserve it. My dad and I went into a broken relationship when I quit high school and joined the army, actually he made me join the army. And so we had a broken relationship. I thought that he did not deserve my love. I saw one side of the story. I never considered his side of the story. That’s another topic for another day, but at the age of 35, because I was a disciple, I was longing to have a relationship, a reconciliation with my dad. So I invited him to lunch about 35. I think he was like 24 years older than me.
And so my dad, now, if I’m 35, he’s what, he’s going on what, 60? Is that right? 45. Yep. Going on 60. And my dad was a working man. Drove a truck and repaired air conditioning. So we met at this restaurant and we had a great time. And as we were walking out of the restaurant, I mean, we did have a… It was a wonderful time. We both wanted to be there. We both longed apparently for this reconciliation. And as we walked out into the parking lot, I was going to my car and it turned out his truck was parked right next to my car. And I turned to him, I said, I don’t know why but I said, “Dad look, can I give you a hug?” And the next thing I knew, he was moving in on me like a grizzly bear. He didn’t say anything, he just moved in on me like a grizzly bear. And he grabbed me. He grabbed me and he squeezed me so tight and I grabbed him back and I squeezed him so tight.
And he let out this deep primordial groan that I could just visualize centuries of pain, bubbling to the surface. And he let out this deep groan grrrr! And after what seemed like forever, we drew back from each other, and we’re holding each other’s shoulders. And I said, “I love you, dad.” And he said, “I love you too son.” And that set off a chain reaction in our family, we never talked about that in our family right after it happened. But it was like a switch flipped in our family. And all of a sudden, all of my brothers started saying, “Well, good talking to you, Pat, I love you.” I said, “Who are you, and what did you do with my brother?” And then I said, ‘Well, I love you too.” And he said, “Well,” My brother, Pete, he said, “Well, I love you more than you love me.”
I said, “Wait a second. I’ve loved you for a lot longer than you’ve loved me. I love you more than you love me.” He said, “No, I love you more than you love me,” and slammed on the phone. Throughout my entire family, it’s just like we became this from… We had never used the love word in our family that I… Not that much, at least. And now all of a sudden, every time we’re together it’s, “I love you so much.” “I love you.” “I love you.” “I love you too.” God brought about I reconciliation. And he did it really because of the concept that we’re talking about here, your witness as a disciple, hinges on loving people who don’t deserve it. I didn’t think my dad deserved it. I know that I didn’t deserve it. But the witness in our family and the witness, it’s just completely rehabilitated our family. Big Idea today, Your witness as a disciple hinges on loving people who don’t deserve it.
Let’s pray. Our father in heaven, first of all, thank you for your word. If we ever teach a message here, Jesus, in which you are not the hero, then we’ve done something wrong. You are the hero, you’re showing us how we can have an ache for the harvest, how we can love you, how we can love other people, how we can abide in you. Lord I pray that you would take these messages and you would change us. You would set us free. And that we would share that same compassion that you have for other people. We make our prayer today in your name and for your sake and glory alone. Amen.