It makes a pretty song. The preacher can create a dynamic sermon all about loving our enemy.
The song and the sermon are truly the easy part.
How about living it?
I listened to a message on this very topic yesterday and it was quite convicting. The preacher mentioned how the old commandment was to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But in the New Testament age, we are commanded to love them like Christ does. The bar is set even higher.
Why? Because I don’t even like myself some days. I have bad hair days. I have days where I feel I completely fail as a parent and I’m so irritated with myself. I have spoken horribly to myself in times of self doubt and insecurity.
If I love others like I love me, it would be easy to start picking out their flaws too. I would have days where I love them and days where I didn’t like them so much. My feelings would dominate my actions.
God has called us to do better than that.
He has called us to love like Christ loves. We know that He was beaten, His flesh was ripped apart. He was hung on the cross by men who mocked Him and spit at Him. Why, He was God in the form of a man! He could’ve willed for each of those people to be struck dead.
Instead, He prayed, “Father forgive them.”
He gave up His life for the very people who despised Him. He loved them with a perfect love.
That goes above and beyond loving as we love ourselves. It removes personal grievances and places them in the hands of a just God, who is the only One who can change hearts and situations.
Does this mean we remain in unhealthy relationships or allow people to mistreat us? No. Sometimes, we have to remove ourselves from harmful situations. However, whatever went wrong on those circumstances does not give us permission to hate, hoard bitterness, or neglect praying for those people.
We are commanded to love and forgive.
Let’s be honest, though. Isn’t it more fun to dish the dirt on someone we can’t stand? Doesn’t it feel good to serve up a taste of someone else’s medicine? I’m not going to deceive you and say the flesh doesn’t love those things. Our sinful nature loves the drama and conflict. I can raise my hand and say I’ve been there even recently!
As Christians, we are called to do better. We are called to bless those that curse us. We are called to pray for them. Even if our enemies never apologize or see their wrong toward us, it does a great deal in our heart to set them free. It softens the hardness created by hurt feelings. It pulls up that root of bitterness which has no job other than to destroy.
Feelings are fickle. They come and go. You will love people one day and want to avoid them the next. We have to make a conscious decision to love them as Christ does in spite of what our feelings may say.
Don’t love them like you would love you.
Your feelings are fickle. They come and go. You will love people one day and want to avoid them the next.
Love them like Jesus does.