It’s easy to love our friends, most of the time. Even friends can get on our last nerve at times. Now imagine being nice to an enemy or someone who has done you wrong? That’s a little harder to picture, much less do. But in a spirit of loving everyone as God does, Jesus is encouraging us to do the same.
As the Old Testament taught us to “love our neighbor,” Jesus came to specify a little who our neighbor was. (More on this in Luke 10, read it HERE.) It had been thought that it was our friends. Folks on the fringes of society or ones who were mean to us would not be our neighbor, so therefore we didn’t need to love them. Jesus wanted to clear that up. God doesn’t show favorites. His blessings are available to everyone.
Can’t you imagine how Jesus’ words rocked their world? Perhaps it’s rocking yours as well. The thought of loving someone who has wronged you can be a bit daunting. How do you even start to set aside the feelings of hurt, frustration, anger, bitterness, emptiness, etc.?
Jesus anticipated the push back and gave us a solution. Pray for them. When we begin to intercede on someone’s behalf in our prayer life, the connection is made. There can be a spark. When you pray for another, you show you care for them (whether intentionally or not). You can also pray for your relationship with your enemy–whatever seems appropriate in your situation. The important thing here is that Jesus does give us an answer to the “how” question.
Jesus also answers the why question in case you were wondering why we should even bother loving our enemies. Why, because it sets us apart. Anyone can love their friends. We could also say that hate multiplies hate, or hate is self-destructive, hate wastes our time and energy.
Conversely, love is the way to transform. Jesus tells us by loving our enemies we imitate our Father in heaven, and we set ourselves apart from the world. We will never look weak. Instead, we show proof of our enormous strength and courage.
Who do you need to love today?
Let’s pray. Lord, I struggle to think of who my enemy is. There have been plenty of times in my life when I have known exactly who that is. I am ready to be loving to everyone just as you are loving. Help me not to judge, only to love. Help me not to fear, only to love. May I use my prayers to draw closer to you and to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.