But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Sometimes I really don’t like what the Bible has to say – and often it is not the things I struggle to understand, but the things I do understand.
Case in point: Jesus’ teachings about loving your enemies.
Now it would have been so much easier for Jesus to say something like this: “Love those people who are around you whom you can love, do good to those who will do good back to you, bless those who are like you and pray for those whom you deem worthy.” Unfortunately, that is not what He said.
For all I hear about people wanting to follow the teachings of Jesus, I find a disconcerting reality. Most of us select the things we want to follow, or the things that fit into our ideals for life. Rarely do I see people wrestle with the implications of Jesus’ teachings that might force us to rethink what we value and how we actually live in this world. Like the expert in the Law who comes to Jesus, wanting to justify himself, and asks, “Who is my neighbor,” we often employ mental gymnastics to make this teaching more palatable, don’t we?
“But you don’t know what they’ve done to me!”
“You don’t know what they’re like!”
“Jesus just could not have possibly meant them, could he?”
Yes, yes He did.
Jesus calls on us to love our enemies – those who hate us, curse us, and mistreat us. These are the people we are to love – in our actions, not just our words. Jesus states as much:
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love only those who love you, what credit is it to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you only do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. (Luke 6:29-33)
This is a hard teaching because it calls us to go against the flow of culture. It calls us to step forward and do what appears to be crazy. But therein lies the beauty. To love those who hate us, curse us, and mistreat us is to proclaim the kingdom come and to diffuse the hate with love – for love covers a multitude of sins, both others’ and ours.
So what might this mean for how we live? What might this look like for how you interact with those around you? These are the tough questions of what it means to be a follower of Jesus in this present culture. To avoid the discussion, or do whatever mental gymnastics it takes to get around actually having to live this sort of way is, well, not loving.
To comment on today's devotional, click here .
How do you struggle with Jesus’ teaching to love one another? Is there some specific person or some specific type of people God is calling you to love? How will you do that, not just talk about it?
Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:9-21
Encouraging Parents…Building Families
Other FREE resources from HomeWord and Jim Burns: