Can We Love Each Other, But Not Like Each Other?
“I can’t deal with this one.” “They just rub me the wrong way.” “They get on my nerves.” “I can’t vibe with them.”
Have you ever said these words about a teammate? I know I have.
Before we get carried away, this is not about the gift of discernment or vexation of spirits. I am aware of those things. But, this is about a person who lives for the Lord, but your personality and their personality clash. Why?
We are created differently, on purpose.
I believe my understanding of this topic increased when I became a mother. I am a mother of five beautiful, yet different children. While I carried them all in my womb for nine months, I waited like everyone else to see the Lord’s handiwork. Their makeup was in the hands of The Almighty, and I had no say so in the matter. They have the same mother and father, same belief system, but it is the design of God that each person has something that differentiates them other than their DNA – and that is their personality.
Now, understand the difference between personality and character: the personality is given, the character is developed.
A simple definition of personality is identity. Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities of a person.
One thing I learned long ago from my pastor was that God does not want to change our personality. He wants to change our character.
Love is an action.
Love is a term used around the world. But, as believers, we must define love according to the Word of God. The Apostle John said it best, “love not in word, but in action” (1 John 3:18). Love has always been an action, never a feeling. If it were a feeling, why would God ask us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)? God is not oblivious to the fact that when someone has wronged you, it is human nature to feel it. However, loving your enemies is not about disregarding your feelings – it is about not acting upon them.
God has commanded everyone to love. When you read 1 Corinthians 13, you find all the things that love is – not how love feels. Because love is an action, even though you may find yourself having a personality clash with another follower of Christ, we are still required to love them.
Speak the truth in love.
You may think, “how can I love someone, and I don’t like them?” I used to think the same. Before I was born again, I thought it was a disservice to my heart and society if I suppressed my feelings. So, if I didn’t like you, I would tell you. There would be no questions in your mind regarding how I felt about you. I had no regard. I was blunt and carefree. People said I was mean, and the truth is, I was. It wasn’t godly, but in my eyes, it was right. We can do things as people that may feel right to us but are not pleasing to the Lord. For some they are unaware, others are just rebellious.
When I accepted Christ and learned of Him, I found that this was wrong. It was hard for me to understand that this wasn’t right in the eyes of God. I felt like I was telling the truth to people. What was wrong about being honest? But Paul said while all things are allowable not all things were beneficial (1 Corinthian 10:23).
I had to learn that the heart had issues of its own (Jeremiah 17:9). It takes God to do substantial work from the inside to show us ourselves and how we really look through the mirror of the Word. Sin is corrected, and if a person’s personality is not sinful then it’s a personal preference. God is not concerned about our personal preference if it will cause us to disobey His Word.
We are family.
Those who do the will of the Father are family (Matthew 12:50). One thing we cannot choose is our family. I have said this for a long time. People cannot select their family naturally or spiritually. We cannot tell God who to save and engraft as His children. This is no different than you or I not being able to choose our parents.
It is a sin to have the respect of persons (James 2:9), so we cannot have selective love. We have to love equally. We are an imperfect people made by the hands of a perfect God. However, what you view as a personality flaw (because of your own preferences) is not necessarily a character flaw. There are flaws in us all – we are commanded through the Word to love despite our differences.
So how does all of this tie in together?
God began to tell me that many teammates are loving based on personality. The body of Christ is making spiritual selections based on personality (which is natural). They promote and support who they like, not those who do the will of the Father.
Many teammates choose whether to receive the Gospel based on the personality of the one delivering the message. They have decided that the Gospel is “truth” only if it appeals to them. But, we cannot reject truth because we don’t like the delivery package. God chooses His vessels, not man. God will hold us all accountable to the commandment to love, even if we did not like the person.
SO, WHAT’S THE PLAY CALL?
Teammates, I wish it were possible to tell you that we will all harmoniously flow. The truth is – we won’t. Our personality may flow better with some than others. My personality may bother someone, and their personality, someone else. But we have not been commanded to like one another; we have been commanded to love one another (John 15:12). We have even been instructed to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). If we can make exceptions for our natural families by overlooking all their flaws, why can’t we do the same for the household of faith?
I’m not telling you to be “buddy-buddy” with everyone. We are all sisters and brothers, but not all of us are friends (I’ll save that article for a later date). Abraham, our patriarch of faith, understood love in the midst of disagreement. In Genesis 13, we find that Abraham and Lot, who were family, had to separate following a dispute within their camps. While they went their separate ways, the very next chapter (Genesis 14), Abraham, in his love for Lot rescues him when he is captured (Genesis 14:16). Love will cause you to put aside the differences whether they be offenses or personality and seek the best possible outcome.
All acts of love do not call for physical involvement or proximity. At times the only love you will be able to perform is spiritually by praying. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was able to set aside the crimes of the very people that persecuted Him and pray to the Father for their forgiveness (Luke 23:24) — proving even the more that love is not based on feelings. It did not feel great for our Savior to be crucified for a world that would betray Him, but He did it anyway. So, why can’t we do what He has instructed and love as He loves?
My teammate, I share this with you to encourage and mature you in God. Today, I am a different person because of the transformation of God. I’m still blunt and straightforward, but now in the love of God. The Lord allowed me to keep my personality, but shaped my character to be pleasing to Him. Is it a struggle to love those that you don’t like? Indeed. I will be the first to shout this out. But what gives me the strength to love and pray for those who I do not necessarily flow with is understanding the love that was shown to me by God. Because He did it for me, I can do it for Him.
I pray this helps someone.