Today I’d like us to focus our time on one of Jesus’ instructions from this passage. Just two verses, a few sentences, but wow are they worth looking into for a few extra minutes today.
36-‘Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to get paid. 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. You must be compassionate, just as your father is compassionate.”
Love your enemies, exclamation point? Love? Lets start with the definition. Lets look at 1 Cor 13 for God’s definition of love.
4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand it’s own way, it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Now it is starting to come into focus a bit better for me. If I think about what love looks like from the world’s standpoint, I am talking about feelings of affection, brotherhood and goodwill toward another person. I can’t muster up those feelings for an enemy. But as I think about my enemy and interact with him or her, through the lens of 1Cor 13, “loving” begins to look different. It is by no means easy! Any form of “love your enemy” goes against our human nature. We aren’t capable of sustaining love toward someone who intends to harm us. We must remember Who’s we are. We must remember that the Most High resides in us and has begun the work of making us new creations. He is able to help us choose the action of love (1Cor 13) instead of us hoping that a loving feeling pops into our heart at the right time.
When I was a senior in High School there was a party one weekend. There was alcohol there and many of my classmates drank. I did not attend or even know about the party. (That’s how popular I was!) One of the partygoers went to my church and her parents were friends of my parents. Unbeknownst to me, her parents reached out to my parents for advice on how to deal with their child being at this party, after they found out about it from a source that to this day I am unaware of. Because my classmate knew that her parents had talked with my parents, and then she got in trouble, she assumed that I told my parents about the party, (probably out of spite because I hadn’t been invited…makes sense) and that my parents went to her parents to inform them about their daughter’s choices the night of the party. Clearly she and the rest of the popular kids were furious that they had been ratted out and punished. (I think there was a lot of grounding going on which ruined everyone’s fun for the next however many weeks or months…I can’t remember.) What I do remember is that for the rest of my senior year, I was everyone’s enemy! (…and I would like to point out that I did NOTHING!) I was devastated! I had to walk back into that school on Mon with everyone (it wasn’t really everyone, but it sure felt like it) wishing me harm, and somehow deal with all of them. I was NOT equipped to handle this! So I did what every high school girl would do and ran to tell a friend, (not my parents) how wrongly I had been treated. Because my friend was older, wiser and my youth pastor, he spent hours over the next few weeks praying with me and for me to walk into that school every day and not keep a record of wrongs. He prayed with me to ask God to help me daily have the courage to keep my big mouth shut and love those kids by being kind, patient and not demanding my own way. God helped me in one of the biggest messes of my life (to that point in my life) to never give up, never lose faith, be hopeful and endure through every circumstance.
Can we today, look with God’s lens at the people in our lives that are wishing us harm? Can we love our enemies by being patient and kind? Can we ask God to help us have the courage to keep from retaliating, to keep from being rude and to always have hope for those people?
Please note that my classmates got the last laugh by choosing me as “Most likely to become a minister” on the page of the year book where everyone else gets noted for having the best smile, best hair or being the class clown.