I recently was asked by a young person, "What do I do when I just don't like someone?" I must be honest; I had no good answer for them! I told them, "You just be kind. You try hard to be Christ-like!" But I knew that was a semi-shallow response, so I told them I would look up some Scripture that might help them understand not only how to treat someone they don't like, but also why we do what we do. If I'm honest, I don't always naturally get along with everyone, so this was a great question to answer for myself, too!
I think the crux of the matter can be solved by exercising Matthew 22:36-40:
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
In the above passage, Jesus is asked which of the commandments is the greatest; His response is simple: Love God and love people. In Romans 13:8-10, Paul describes loving God and loving people as "... the fulfilling of the law." In I John 2:9-10, John describes it by saying, "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, ..." This passage says that one cannot hate your brother AND abide in the light. There are at least 20 other verses in 1 John that speak to our love for God being exercised by our love for people.
If we turn to 3 John 5-6, God's Word says, "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: ..." What John is saying is that these Christians are doing a great job at loving people, all people - lost people and saved people.
All of this is a good base, but what about people we don't mesh with, people that are unkind to us, dare I say ... our enemies? God's Word is clear that loving people who already love us is easy: "... for sinners also love those that love them." (Luke 6:31-38) Our real reward will be for the actions we impose on our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 says, "... Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, ... " God says that we should be positive with our words (bless them); with our actions (do good to them); and with our thoughts (pray for them).
So what do we do when we just don't like someone? The Bible says we start by loving God, and loving God means that we love others; they go hand-in-hand. Loving people is not restricted to people we like, or people that are in need. We ought to love everyone - Christians and unbelievers, friends and enemies. In a very practical way, God tells us to pray for our enemies, serve those with whom we are in conflict, and speak well to those people and about those people. All of this is possible through, and pleasing to, God's Holy Spirit.
Written by Ryan Williamson