Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 4 of “Fan or Follower – Deal with Division” (LISTEN HERE).
“You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
In Jesus’ ministry there was an individual who felt he had done pretty well at keeping the law of God. He felt he was loving God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. However, he wanted to make sure he was doing well at “love your neighbor as yourself.” When he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The answer? Anyone who has a need is my neighbor and is an opportunity to love.
How come Jesus didn’t teach a parable on “Who is my enemy?”
I wish he did because that is the question that comes up in my mind to “justify” how well I am doing at what Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:43-44.
Maybe the parable of the Good Samaritan would answer the question as well.
However, who is your enemy?
We know from Jesus’ teaching who is NOT our enemy.
Jesus said “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:46)
An enemy is not someone who will love you back. So an enemy is someone who is hard to love because you KNOW there will be no loving response back. The phrase, “Extra love opportunity” might apply to these situations.
We know from Jesus’ teaching who IS our enemy (or potentially our enemy).
Since this behavior (to love our enemies) is modeled by the Father, Jesus teaches that he loves the evil and the unrighteous.
So an enemy can be anyone who perpetrates or promotes evil and anyone who is not following the ways of the Lord (unrighteous).
The potential is that at any point in our lives, ANYONE can be our enemy. As sinful human beings, we all have the potential to enact evil and we all have done that which is unrighteous.
As always, Jesus digs deeper than the surface. An enemy is not just someone that serves in an opposing military against our military. An enemy is not just a criminal that seeks to do evil against us.
An enemy is any one who harms us physically, emotionally, or spiritually and against whom we are tempted to wish, perpetrate or feel evil or hatred against.
The question that will challenge us this week is when that “enemy” shows up in our lives will we seek revenge or seek to repair the relationship?
The temptation will be to seek revenge. The challenge will be to repair.
With the Lord’s help we will let go of revenge and repair with love.
Apply: What relationship in your life today would you classify as an “enemy” relationship? What are your thoughts and feelings about that person? How are you tempted to respond? How is God calling you to respond?
Prayer: Lord thank you for all the people in my life, even the ones that show up as enemies. For in these relationships I get to model the love you have shown to me. While we were still enemies (sinners) you loved me. Help me to do the same. AMEN.