Interesting topics sometimes come up for discussion when you’re sitting around a table with your teenagers.
We were out eating frozen yogurt one night recently, and our daughters asked me why we’ve never watched superhero movies or tv shows together. I’d never really thought about that! I don’t have anything against superheros. If we’d had boys, I imagine we’d have watched more of that type of media. But I’d never realized my girls were interested in it!
I know enough about superhero stories to know that nearly every plot has a “bad guy” or an enemy that the superhero has to overcome. He (or she) uses superhuman powers to defeat their foe.
You and I don’t typically have those kind of enemies, someone who’s actively working against us. But we may have a person who seems bent on irritating us. Maybe everything they say or do rubs us the wrong way. It could be an unfriendly neighbor or co-worker we have to deal with. Or perhaps it’s that person we thought was a friend until we found out she’d been talking about us behind our back.
As we continue in our series on love, we’re going to see what Jesus says about how we should treat our enemies. It’s certainly not what our flesh is going to want to hear.
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” ~Luke 6:27, 28, 32, 33, 35
Yes, all those characteristics we learned about love are to be shown not only to our friends and families, but also to those who make our life difficult. Verse 27 even gives us some specific ways to show our love.
Do good to your enemies.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just ignore my enemies, but God says to do good to them. That sounds like I should actively look for ways to make their life easier.
Bless your enemies.
I need to want good things for those who may not want good things for me. That could involve me actually helping them out in some way or asking God to show favor to them.
Pray for your enemies.
While this is the last one in the list, I think it’s the key to the other two. As I sincerely pray for a person I find hard to love, the Holy Spirit can give me the ability to bless them and do good to them. I can ask God to watch over my enemies, guide them, and provide their needs.
I like how Jesus points out that loving our friends is no big deal – the unsaved find that easy to do. But because we know Jesus as our Savior, we can go way beyond just loving our friends, and show love to our enemies. Treating others well when they treat us well just feels right. It might also feel “good” to do wrong to those who’ve treated us wrongly. Yet that’s not how we’re to operate as Christians.
Notice that God doesn’t promise that when we show love to our enemies they’ll become our friends. He tells us to “…love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again.” We can’t control our enemy’s reaction to us, but we can control how we behave toward them.
He does say in Proverbs 25:21-22, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.” God sees and knows our hearts and our actions toward our enemies. He knows that it can be difficult to follow this command, and the Bible says that He will reward us.
Once again, God is our greatest example. “…For He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” God loves all those He created, and shows great grace and mercy even toward those who reject Him. We may categorize certain people as the worst sinners we know, yet they receive innumerable kindnesses from God every day.
And you know what else? I receive all those kindnesses, too! Even though I’m His child, I fail at loving my enemies – and many other commands, quite often. Yet He loves me, and forgives my many failures every day.
I think loving our enemies is usually outside the realm of our human possibility. Here’s where the Holy Spirit steps in. It’s the fruit of the Spirit being produced in our lives as we walk with God that overcomes our human nature, and lets that love flow through us – even toward our enemies.
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