God commands us to love our brethren. Loving my brother is not an option, nor is it a command that I can follow selectively. Although we realize that some brethren’s personalities clash with ours, or they have habits or idiosyncrasies that bother us, we must work harder to overcome these minor things to be brethren.
Some have the attitude, “I have to love him but that doesn’t mean that I have to like him.” Perhaps they wish to reconcile the command to love our brethren and the reality that some brethren can be obnoxious, overbearing, insensitive, and annoying. How can we truly have love for our brethren if we do not make significant attempts to overcome the natural reaction to avoid these people? Will we show true hospitality, help, love, and concern for someone we love but whom we make conscious efforts to avoid? A better approach is to look past character traits to the soul within. Perhaps the gentle rebuke made in sincere love could chisel away some undesirable characteristics to make the brother lovable to others. Certainly, there are people who grate on our nerves but we probably grate on the nerves of others as well.
Paul addresses the need to make a special effort to love the unlovable in Colossians 3:13: “bear with one another.” The word “bear” here is used elsewhere of God suffering or bearing with us (Matthew 17:17, Mark 9:19). In 2 Corinthians 11:1,19, the same word is used in a sense that we might translate as put up with. There is a great need for us to suffer with, forbear, put up with, and bear with one another. We come from different backgrounds, geographical areas, financial situations, educational levels, etc. We are a dissimilar people unified into one body under one head. It is essential that we bear with one another and not willfully withhold our full love for some brethren because we do not “like” them. “What do you do more than others? Even the tax collectors love those who love them,” Matthew 5:46 (paraphrased)