As I have been engaged in conversations with believers and unbelievers lately, I’m struck by the whole concept of “loving the unlovely.” If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you are trusting by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, then you should know about loving the unlovely. You may ask yourself, “Why should I know about loving the unlovely?” The simple answer is because you, in your sin, are unlovely and yet God by His grace has loved you and brought you into the saving knowledge of His Son. Loving the unlovely is all about grace and that is really difficult for us to grasp even when the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. It goes against the way the world works and the way we naturally think. We have to remember the world is fallen and the “natural” way was turned upside down by sin.
It is easy for us to love what is lovely, it is natural for us to love our own, as long as they stay loveable (lovely). What happens when someone is unlovely or becomes unlovely? We need to remember what the apostle writes in 1John 4:19,
“We love because he first loved us.” The love that God loves with is a love that looks beyond loveliness; it is a love that chooses to love in spite of loveliness. In our sin and fallenness, we were rebels against God and yet in that state God sent forth His Son to die for us to show His love for us. Since God has loved us in this way we are freed then to love even the unlovely. Jesus even commands us to love this way when he quotes from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”