“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44
It easy to love those who reciprocate that expression, it is a lot harder when that love is only one way. Jesus takes the teaching of loving your neighbor to a whole new level when we tells those listening to love your enemies too. Loving your enemies is extremely hard to do, especially if there is still resentment and hurt involved. How could Jesus expect us to love THOSE people? We might say to God, “I can’t love that person, he has said unkind things to and about me.” or “God, you must be mistaken, that person is hateful and I don’t even think his mother loves him.” Regardless of how we may feel, this kind of love does not naturally happen, but Christ displayed it for us in how he died.
Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross.
He could have refused, he certainly had the power to do so, and yet he did die…by the hands of those who HATED him. He poured out his life upon those who were his enemies and friends. His death signified our life. …”But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” (Ephesians 2:4) We were his frienemies…but we were dead because of the things we had done. Yet Jesus came and loved even his enemies, which happened to be all of us because we were blind in our sin.
This calling to love our enemies isn’t just for the enemy or the person who has hurt us or dislikes us…this calling to love is as much for them as it is for us. When we choose to love in this way, we can begin to let go of the trappings of resentment, anger, revenge, malice, and hate. Loving even the unlovable lifts the burden from us that used to hold us captive and bound to this world. This isn’t a fake or phony kind of love either, no, instead when we begin to love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, we begin to realize just how much grace and mercy plays into this relationship. What I mean is, we don’t deserve this love from God…and neither do our enemies…and yet like Christ, we must give it freely. This might be the hardest thing you ever do – let go of the hurt, the grudges and the hate and simply love even your frienemy…without strings attached or any ulterior motives.
Don’t let hate rule you.
Don’t let it hold you as its slave anymore.
Release it, surrender it to Christ’s perfect love and allow Him to transform and shape you with his grace and mercy.
Prayer: Lord today I ask that you soften my heart towards those who seem unlovable. Regardless of how they feel towards me and what they may do to me, help me to turn the other cheek as you work within my life to transform it. I want to be your reflection to the world and this includes even those who do not like me. Fill me with your grace and mercy today. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight. Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer -Amen.