What is stronger than Unlove?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
— 1 John 4:11 ESV

Amy Carmichael sang the praises of love. Her pen gushed with emotion, but these were not the words of a starry-eyed dreamer or an infatuated pop star.

Amy was a missionary to India's poor and outcast for fifty years. She knew love's gritty side. With eyes wide open to the "hard side" of love she wrote:

Nothing is sweeter than love; nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing broader, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven and in earth; for love is born of God, and can rest only in God above all things created. Love is the answer to all things: love ends all questions. Lord, ever more give us this love. God’s Missionary, pp. 57-8.

Love does the hard work . . . and then the harder work:

  • Love picks up the phone.
  • Love shows up in crisis.
  • Love fesses up when it messes up.
  • Love reaches up to God in prayer.
  • Love lives up to its commitments (even when it is hard).
  • Love doesn’t quit. It doesn’t bail. It works thru hard times.
  • Love gives and gives and gives.

Love also does all it can to stop unlove. Love's rival is cruel. It is self-centered. It destroys. As Amy notes, unlove kills:

Unlove is deadly. It is a cancer. It may kill slowly but it always kills in the end ... If unlove is discovered anywhere, stop everything and put it right, if possible at once.
— Amy Carmichael

Unlove wears a thousands masks:

  • Lust is unlove.
  • Wishing ill is unlove.
  • Excessive solitude is unlove.
  • Gossiping is unlove.
  • Forsaking the gathering of the church is unlove.
  • Holding a grudge is unlove.
  • Refusing to resolve conflict is unlove.
  • Hoping for someone's demise is unlove.

Unlove undoes the efforts of true love. It is Satan's tool for it is the opposite of God's redeeming love. That is why when we see it we do all we can to "put it right."

Is the cancer of unlove making a slow and silent assault on your heart?

If the wish for hurt is trumping the hope for healing, the solution is not "try harder."

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

John wants me to remember that love's fuel is love's Author. Jesus gave himself for me on the cross to atone for my sins. That is the beautiful love Amy describes. God's love is the motivation, mandate, and power that puts an end to unlove.

This Inauguration Day the sun rises on a volatile and divided political scene. There is plenty of unlove in the air. I want to say, "Stop all the rancor!" But that cry is simply a wish in the wind.

I cannot command the love God commends, but I can demonstrate it. So I pray . . .

God, pour out your love through me today.


  • "Nothing is sweeter than love . . ." from
  • "Unlove is deadly . . ." from Frank Houghton, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, The Story of a Lover and her Beloved, 1953, page 219, quoted in Amy Carmichael: "Beauty For Ashes" by Iain Murray. Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Truth Trust. 2015.