“You have heard that is was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may have children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Proverbs 25:21
In a previous devotion, we discussed forgiveness, and loving your enemy piggybacks off of that devotion. And every devotion can be traced back to loving God and loving others. We all have that person or persons in our life that we just can’t stand. Seeing them or hearing their name can anger you and some of these people suck out every bit of energy.
I hope that you learn from this but it is also preaching to me because of two situations that I am dealing with concerning two different people. One betrayed me unexpectedly and could cause financial hardship on me and my family. The other is the guy that sucks every bit of energy out of a room when he walks in. He is arrogant and fake. Both are testing my ability to love my enemy, and frankly I pray that I honor God in how I treat these two people despite my instinct to attack.
Have you ever noticed that our natural instinct is often the exact opposite of Christ? When someone hits you, is it natural to offer them your other cheek to hit as well? If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, is it natural to offer them your coat as well? (See Matthew 5:38-40) Of course it isn’t normal to not hit back, yet that is what Christ calls us to do.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to defend yourself or your family when someone attacks, but it does mean that you shouldn’t seek revenge. Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Paul in went on to write and he quoted Proverbs 25:21, “On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
In seeking to be more like Jesus, he again is the perfect example. He is God. He could have stopped the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers at any time. He was there when the mountains were created along with the oceans, the stars, and all of creation. Do you not think he had to power to stop the ones persecuting him? What’s more amazing is he was allowing them to torture and eventually kill him and he was doing it for them, and us. Christ was actually praying for God to forgive them. Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” This is what a world that is more like Jesus looks like!
Will your enemy turn and become your friend? Will the two men I mentioned in the beginning ever care if I love them? Only God knows, but to be like Jesus we have to love everyone regardless. Will it be easy? No. Will you fail? Yes. Will God forgive you when you do? Yes, if you ask for forgiveness and truly mean it when you do. A world that looks like Jesus can start with you and it can start with me. The choice is ours!