Love your enemy
Pastor John C. Berg
27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.
This is your daily devotion for April 1st. This week we are exploring the times Jesus used the word “love. On Monday we saw how the Biblical idea of love is that it’s an action. Doing what’s best for someone else. Yesterday we heard Jesus’ command to love other people. Today we’re going to get more specific about who is included in “other people.”
I have a vivid memory of a Saturday in fourth or fifth grade. A classmate had a birthday party at his house and invited everyone in the class except me. I’m 43 now so I’m over it, but I will admit that if I think about that memory for while I really can still feel the pain. It w devastating. I didn’t have the confidence to weather something like that. The boy who did that to me might have been the first person in my life that I thought of as an enemy.
You probably have a similar story. Your enemy was a bully at school or a former friend who spread a terrible rumor about you. Is there someone at work who undermines you, someone who talks behind your back? It seems we live in a time when we are took quick to view those who have different political beliefs as enemies. Maybe you wouldn’t use the word “enemy” but you most likely know someone who treats you with something very different than love.
This is what Jesus says in Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” So are you listening? Jesus tells you to love your enemy. If you really take that in, really chew on it you might want to spit it out. You love your spouse, your kids, your friends. How in the world are you supposed to love someone who doesn’t love you, someone who actively sins against you?
It goes back to what we talked about on Monday. Love is not an emotion. It’s often accompanied by emotion, but love itself is an action. Jesus is not telling you to have warm and fuzzy feelings about your enemy. We can’t make ourselves feel an emotion, can we? He says “do good to those who hate you.”
That’s at least possible, although certainly not easy. In fact, doing good to our enemies is still very difficult. A few verses later Jesus gives us the key: “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” My enemy does not deserve my love just as I don’t deserve God’s love. Yet, I receive God’s love as does my enemy. Who am I to withhold love from anyone?
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, you are merciful to me every day. Help me to love those who don’t love me. Amen.