What is the toughest thing you have ever been asked to do? I would have to say the lesson in todays scripture is probably the toughest that there is.
The message here is to love your enemies and to do good to those who hate you.
Why Love Your Enemies?
We have been called as Christians to be transformed into the image of Christ. Jesus came not to condemn people but to save them.
Every person is an enemy of God initially because every person on the earth starts out as a sinner. Sin is in direct opposition to what God wants of people and it is the one thing that stands between man and God.
But in spite of sin God still provides for man. Both the good and the evil receive the blessings of life on this earth. As he says in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
It is because we are to be like God that we are called to love our enemies so that we can be the children of God.
How Do You Love Your Enemies?
Jesus gave a few examples in these scriptures. Ultimately it is about your attitudes and behaviours. We do not have to be all “buddy buddy” with them, but we do need to behave in an appropriate way.
Pray for them. Don’t antagonise them. When they attack you, don’t argue or fight back with them, leave any justice to God. Who knows what the Lord is doing with these people and whether he is using you to turn them around? It may be that when these enemies see your good behaviour they will want to know more.
And if they take away your goods and property, don’t feet about it. The Lord knows what you need and will provide. Everything in this world is temporary and transitory but to seek God will provide you a greater benefit and you will be rewarded when you behave as Christ would behave.
What should You Do?
First, recognise this can be tough. It is not an easy thing to love your enemies. Even under the Law of Moses there was the opportunity for retribution where the law said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But in Christ we are seeking and have been called to a higher standard.
The last verse in this section provides the best guidance of all. “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” (Verse 31)
How do you want to be treated? Then do the same to them. Do you want to have friends? Then be a friend. Do you want support and prayer? Then pray and support others, especially your enemies. Who knows, one good deed from you towards an enemy may turn them around.
Finally, exhibit the attributes of the Love of God as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13, for this is the nature of God. Be patient, kind, tolerant, unselfish and at peace. Don’t boast or be arrogant, irritable, resentful and especially don’t rejoice when your enemy falls or fails. Instead pray for their salvation and their help from God. That is the greatest thing you can do for then you will be behaving as Christ Jesus and God would behave.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Lily Rosen)