“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matthew 5:44
There are many things I have a love-hate relationship with. Naturally, I love food and hate weight gain. I also, love movies but hate when the story lingers with me, monopolizing my thoughts. However, when Jesus told me to love my enemies He wasn’t referring to the calories in a hot fudge sundae, nor was He suggesting that we thoroughly enjoy our enemies like we might food or a movie. Rather, He was commanding us to agapao or love dearly those we would naturally hate. The abusive bully. The mean teacher. The oppressive sibling. The critical parent. The obnoxious boss. The profane co-worker. The rude waitress. The person who cuts you off on the freeway. The ex. The envious relative. The thief.
Perhaps, like me, you are struggling with the reality of this passage. Can it be that God is asking us to love the people whom we cannot stand? Are we to pray for the same people who deliberately hurt us and our loved ones over and over again? The answer, of course, is yes. In this command Jesus unlocks the mystery of forgiveness, the only way to live in freedom this side of heaven. Because He gives us His nature we have the dynamis (inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature) that Luke 24:49 refers to. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power (dynamis) from heaven.” This is the dynamic power to forgive and release an offense to God with the motivating factor being Christ’s love for you and me which He demonstrated on the cross.
It only takes a few seconds to realize this is impossible without God. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit we too can be at peace with our enemies. We can be perfect as He is perfect which means complete in Christ, not lacking anything but leaving everything in the hands of a Holy God. Just think what freedom we would have if the cutting remarks had no power over us or we no longer resented the driver’s “insult.” If, then, we chose to love dearly our enemies, overlooking offenses and, as much as it is up to us, have peace with all men, what would our lives look like?
Personally, this has been a lifelong battle. When I accepted the gift of forgiveness nineteen years ago and Jesus freed me from the bondage of sin, this battle remained. It has been my Achilles Heel and something I have refused to relinquish to God. Oh, what a wretched sinner I am! To not take the land that God has given me because I don’t want to do what He’s asking me to is sin! The Lord has convicted me this week. May He have victory from now on as He breaks the bonds that hold my heart captive to self-protection, unforgiveness and fear.
Lord, Jesus, use me as a vessel of Your of love. Teach me to let go of offenses and give them to you. Renew my mind and show me how to walk in the Light in this matter and not allow myself to be controlled by my flesh. To you be the glory!
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord…” Romans 12:17-19