“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
It’s easy to love people who think like us and treat us well. But if we want to be like God, who gives sunshine and rain to provide for everyone—whether good or bad—we have to learn to be more generous than most people.
Jesus wants us to understand that the way we treat people who are rude, obnoxious, lazy, selfish, or unkind reflects the state of our relationship with God. It’s one thing to get along with our friends. But the way we treat the people who drive us crazy matters too, because it’s part of our witness to the scandalous grace of the gospel.
In order to do this, we have to start with an accurate understanding of who we are. You and I are sinners. We have been selfish. We have done wrong. We have hurt others. We have failed to fulfill our responsibilities. Much of Matthew 5 has been showing us just how deep our sin runs.
And yet even though all of this is true, how does God feel about us? How does God respond to us?
While there may be consequences for our actions, ultimately God chooses not to lash out or to write us off. Instead, God extends mercy and compassion and stays in relationship with us. And he calls us to go and do likewise—even to people who have become our enemies.
Father, give me a love for my enemies that I do not naturally possess. Help me to see them as you see them—people who need forgiveness and grace. Amen.