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Loving Our Enemies

Weekly Devotionals

Loving Our Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.“

-Matthew 5:43-48

I remember watching a video in my college class of Ronald Cotton, a man who was falsely accused of having raped a woman, Jennifer Thompson, and sentenced to life in prison based on her eyewitness misidentification back in 1984. He was innocent but was imprisoned for 11 years until it was proved by DNA testing that he was actually innocent. After he got out of jail, he and Jennifer met and he forgave her, and they even became friends! I remember sitting in my college class thinking, “THAT IS CRAZY! How could he have forgiven her just like that?” It was to no surprise that I later found out that that this man was a Christian and someone who truly knew the love and the forgiveness of God.

I think one of the toughest things for many of us is to forgive those who harm us, who hurt us and make our lives utterly miserable.
Our natural response by default is to retaliate and really harm them back to an equal or a greater degree, and to really wish the worst outcome for them whether we carry this thought into action or keep it silently in our hearts and minds.

But Jesus tells us today that we are to love our enemies and even pray for those who persecute us because in this way we show ourselves to be God’s children who reflect His character of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. This is really hard and sometimes seem unattainable. But the word ‘Father’ tells us that we CAN, because of our relationship to him: that we are of His nature and His character. We have the spirit of the almighty God living in us and empowering us to live this kind of radical life of love. And loving our enemies is radical and supernatural because returning good for good is what everyone does, and can do. That’s just being human and ordinary. There’s nothing special about that. But returning good for evil is divine and supernatural because it cannot be done by anyone else other than those who have been transformed by the spirit of God. A Christian, by definition, is someone
who can do what the best natural man cannot do. 

And yes, it may not be easy but we derive strength and hope in knowing the fact that God forgave us while WE were His enemies. The origin of being able to love our enemy is to experience being loved as an enemy of God. We, as his children, who have been forgiven freely, MUST forgive our enemies and go beyond just forgiving, to blessing and loving our enemies.

My prayer for all of us is that we will more fully, beautifully and accurately reflect who our God is to the world through us loving our enemies and so bring Him the glory due His name.