Love Your Enemies. Do Good to them.
This is one of those verses that used to be a major part of our culture. Love your enemies was something parents used to tell their kids even if they didn’t know it was from the Bible. Today, many non-Christian parents tell their kids don’t hit him first, but if he hits you, beat the living daylights out of him. As Christians we are told straight out, no ifs or buts, love your enemies and treat them nice. Sometimes, that is a big task.
I am thinking I am not the only one who knows someone that it is very difficult to love. His sins could fill a dozen football fields written in 8 font. Oh, right, mine could, too. In fact, that old me was quite rebellious to put it mildly. Well, he can’t tell the truth. Not doesn’t. He can’t, just like his father, Satan. I know, no judging. I have no way of knowing whether he is saved or will be saved. He could even be pushed towards salvation by something he hears from me. Ok, but he has hurt people I love even children. Right. Forgiveness. Seventy times seven times. Ok, I am running out of arguments why I should hate him. And, I seem to have knocked them all down.
How about a reason for loving him? Let’s see there is Mark 12:29 “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” These were Jesus’ words when asked what were the greatest commandments. Nothing is more important than loving your neighbor. It is equal to the commandment to love God. He didn’t say your good neighbors. It’s all neighbors including him.
Ok, if I decide to love him, just how am I going to do that? One thing is to pray for him. Add his name to all your prayers. Not “and please God help him to move far away.” Pray that he is blessed. I read about this years ago when I first started teaching. I had a student who just seemed resolved to drive me crazy. He dropped in to see me at lunch time to see if he could get an argument started. He disagreed with everything I said. So, I started praying for him. He didn’t go away. He didn’t stop trying to get me into an argument, but I began to see him differently. Perhaps, I was seeing him more as God’s child. I even became rather skilled at changing topics on him and steering him away from arguments. Eventually I realized on days he was out sick I actually missed him. Prayer can work miracles.
When you see your nemesis next time, try seeing him as a child of God. God loves him. You can, too. You don’t have to make him a close friend. You don’t necessarily have to have him to your house for lunch, but you need to care for him. If he needs help, you should help him, and if you can’t help him directly, you could maybe find him some help. Here is what the verses around this one say. From Luke Chapter 6:
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. 35 Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
Sometimes it isn’t easy to be compassionate, but once you get used to it there is more than that wonderful reward in heaven. Being compassionate buoys your spirit. It’s good for your heart. And, most of all how good it feels to be acting as children of the Most High.