Jesus said a lot of things that were difficult to hear. But among the most difficult, would have to be the command, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). Have you considered what loving your enemy truly entails?
We all say things like, “I love everyone.” But, is that really true? Especially when we compare what the Bible says about “love” to the way we actually think about, feel about, and treat others?
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Read that passage two or three times. Let each quality of love really sink in. Then, read what Jesus says:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:32–36).
1. Are you “patient” and “kind” to those who have treated you poorly?
2. Would you be envious if a rude co-worker got a raise and promotion, and you didn’t?
3. Would you want to “rub it in” if you got a raise and a promotion, and your rude co-worker didn’t?
4. Do you return insult for insult and use sarcasm to “zing” people?
5. Do you “insist on your own way,” even when you have a STRONG difference of opinion with someone?
6. Are there people who “get under your skin” no matter what they do?
7. Do you “keep score” and resent the people who have wronged you?
8. Are there people who, if they got arrested, you would chuckle to yourself and think, “Well, they deserved it!”
9. Are there people about whom you assume the worst?
10. Are there people whom, despite their requests for forgiveness, you still can’t bring yourself to forgive them?
Think about it. If we’re honest, we’d have to admit, this is an area where we ALL struggle. This is truly one of Jesus’ most difficult commands. And, as a constant reminder, we fix our eyes upon the cross of Christ; the ultimate example of One loving His enemies.
Let’s do our best to lay aside our resentful hearts and, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).
I love you and God loves you,