Tuesday, February 14th, 2023
Jesus called those who would follow him to love their enemies, something contrary to what the world would consider rational human behavior. Not only that, followers of Christ are called to pray for those who mistreat them. They are called to give to those who steal from them. But how can one learn to do this? I think it is common for us to say a quick prayer for these kinds of people, but it is more out of obligation than a true heart-felt prayer. If you are like me, then you’ve probably struggled to pray as fervently for those who have hurt you as those whom you love. What gives this command by Jesus context is how God did the same for us when we were mistreating him, hurting him, and stealing from him. Through sin, we do all these things and more. God is never unaffected or indifferent to sin: He is perfectly loving but also perfectly righteous. Sin will meet judgement. However, God showed his great love for us by sending his son Jesus Christ to the cross, on whom rested all of the judgement and wrath for mankind’s sin so that by faith in Jesus, we will be counted as righteous by his work. Paul says in Romans, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Thus, when Jesus calls us to love our enemies, he is not putting any burden on us that He did not carry himself to an ultimate degree. If not for Jesus seeing the potential for faith in us that brings glory to the Father, and going to the cross for it, then we would not have the life now or eternally that faith guarantees. Even our enemies deserve the treatment that Jesus gave to us. Today, look to Christ’s example for how to love our enemies and take strength from his ultimate sacrifice.
“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. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 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 those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Matthew 6: 27-36 NIV
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 NIV