Relevant Text: 1 Kings 8:46
Love | Our lives are full of hard-to-love people. From the guy who shoves himself into the overcrowded subway during rush hour to the coffee girl who needs the order repeated five times when we’re running late, we’re constantly confronted with the question, “Will we choose to love them?” Yet, when it comes to subway guy or coffee girl, that question is easy to answer. After all, loving them doesn’t cost much – after subway guy gets off at 42nd and coffee girl gives us caffeine, we move on and forget we even met them. When it comes to friends and family, however, that question is hard to answer. After all, they have the real potential to hurt us and, in some cases, we have real reasons to believe that they will because they have us in the past – perhaps even deeply and intentionally. So, how do we decide whether to love someone – come what may – when we have real reasons for believing that they’ll hurt us again?
Power | When God chose to love Israel, He knew that she would hurt Him – deeply and intentionally. Yet, He chose her because He loved her: “The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” . It was that simple. Yet, He wasn’t ignorant about what was in her heart; He knew that she would complain about Him and hate Him and reject Him. As Solomon admitted, “There is no one who does not sin” . Yet, it was in this unrighteous and sinful state – not in a righteous or perfect one – that God chose to love and die for His people: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” . He chose to love us – come what may – and kept that promise even when we crucified His Son – even as he prayed for our forgiveness .
Prayer | Lord, In Christ, your love lives in our hearts to look at the most unlovable people – those who hurt and abandon us – and say, “I choose to love you – not because I don’t think you’ll hurt me or because I’m a good person, but because I trust that God will give me the power of Christ to love you – come what may.” Amen. 
Footnotes:  Deut. 7:6 NIV1984 |  1 Kings 8:46 NIV1984. See also “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecc. 7:20 NIV1984), “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Ps. 14:2-3 NIV1984). See also Ps. 143:2; 1 Jn. 1:8; Ps. 19:12. |  Rom. 5:8 NIV1984 |  Even as Jesus hung on the cross, he begged for God to forgive those who were killing him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:24 NIV1984). |  In his forthcoming book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes about the permanent commitment to love someone in the context of marriage – come what may – and his reasoning is equally applicable to loving the unlovable in your life: “Many people hear this and say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t give love if I don’t feel it! I can’t fake it. That’s too mechanical for me.” I can understand that reaction, but Paul doesn’t simply call us to a naked action; he also commands us to think as we act. ‘Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’ This means we must say to ourselves something like this: ‘Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think, ‘I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.’ No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us – denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him – and in the greatest act of love in history, he stayed. He said, ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.’ He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. That is why I am going to love my spouse.’ Speak to your heart like that, and then fulfill the promises you made on your wedding day” (p. 108-109).