Love Your Enemies • Devotion 1

The Ultimate Example
Mitchell Holmes

The concept of enemies is such an interesting one in our culture; I am hard-pressed to come up with someone that I truly, vehemently despise to the point that I would classify them as my enemy. The term “enemy,” to me, seems like something that might refer to your opponent in a war or large conflict of some kind. This is the type of person that the mere sight of them makes your blood boil and the desire to sharpen your sword intensifies. Maybe there is someone like that for you, but for me, I have been blessed to not have such a person in my life.

For me, enemies are people that annoy me like crazy. My biggest pet peeve is when people do not know how to drive their car. I am a loving person but I tell you what, when someone cuts me off and then proceeds to honk at me or make rude gestures, you will quickly see a new side of me. In those moments of raw emotion, I definitely find myself looking at that person as an enemy and all I can think about is how much I would love to give them a piece of my mind. As I pondered these types of interactions with “enemies” that we have on a daily basis, I came to the realization that these types of people are not truly my enemies; they are not people that desire to see me hurt or killed, they do not bear any ill will to me personally. Perhaps they just having a rough day, or more likely, I am extra irritable that day. As that understanding dawned on me, the words of today’s devotional hit me that much closer to home.

In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” These verses of Scripture were so convicting to me. The fact that Jesus calls us to perfection is staggering. Of course, this is impossible but what Jesus is saying here is that by striving for perfection, we are a better example of Christ and a better image of the character of God. Jesus says that even with those people that we cannot stand, our Lord in Heaven still allows them to wake up to a sunrise each new day. There is not a single person that is not a lost cause and we have to be an example to them to equip ourselves to lead them to Jesus.

How do we accomplish this? How do we set an example? The passage tells us at the end that we are to be different; we are expected to love even those that hate us and greet those that are strangers to us. What Jesus is saying here is that we need to separate ourselves from non-believers by acting as Jesus would act. Even those who do not follow Christ are pleasant to their friends and welcoming to their loved ones. As Christians, we should be welcoming and loving to all people, even those that annoy, frustrate, and perhaps even hate us. Jesus, in His dying moments on the cross, lived out this command. In Luke 23:34, we read, “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.” If Jesus, out of love for His enemies, can forgive the very people that were killing Him, certainly we can show love to the people in our lives that cause us strife. I know that the person who hurt you feels unforgivable at times, but that person needs a Savior just like you once did. Maybe the thing that finally softens their heart and allows them to hear the Word is your kindness and love despite how they have treated you. Consider that today as you pray and as you spend time with the Lord.

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